The Smile Foundation assists children with facial anomalies to receive free corrective surgery.
A hard-hitting statistic reveals that every three minutes a child is born with a cleft palate or cleft lip. This shows the extent for ongoing financial support to sustain the organization’s work, which to date has helped to put the smile back on the faces of over 2 600 children.
At the start of the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season, Vodacom announced that it would donate R3 000 towards the Smile Foundation for every try scored by a South African team during Vodacom Super Rugby as part of the Tries for Smiles campaign.
When the dust from the Vodacom Super Rugby Final settled, the total tally of tries scored by the SA teams during the season stood at 244, equating to R732 000 raised for children who are in desperate need of receiving these life-changing surgeries.
With yet another outstanding season by the Emirates Lions, it comes as no surprise that they led the try-scoring log with a whopping 89 tries, contributing more than a third of the monies raised in the Tries for Smiles campaign.
The Emirates Lions’ journey to support the Vodacom Tries for Smiles campaign began back in April when they visited the children’s ward at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital to see first-hand the incredible difference their tries would make in the lives of the young patients.
The visit had a profound effect on the players in attendance, as they committed to do their best on the field to support the Vodacom Tries for Smiles initiative.
Johannesburg born surgery beneficiary, Corne Peenz, was chosen to be the Child Mascot when the Lions took on the Vodacom Bulls in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash in July.
It was a once in a lifetime experience for the young Lions fan, who counts Elton Jantjies among his favourite rugby players.
But Corne’s story doesn’t end there. The Smile Foundation also strives to ensure that its beneficiaries are successfully integrated back into their schools and communities.
And so, to close the loop, the Emirates Lions players had a surprise for Corne at his school in Springs. Arriving unannounced, the Lions players entered his classroom and singled out the shell-shocked 15-year-old to come up to meet the players and receive a jersey, before sharing cake and snacks with all his classmates.
It was a fitting end to the brave story of Corne Peenz… a true hero.
“Many of us take our ability to smile and express ourselves for granted, but for children with facial anomalies, this is not the case. Vodacom believes that all children deserve the chance to reach their full potential in life, and we are privileged to have been able to help children such as Corne to regain their self-esteem through the restorative surgery offered thanks to the Vodacom Tries for Smiles.” says Janus Kloppers, Principle Specialist for Sponsorship at Vodacom
“Smile Foundation appreciates the solid relationship that we have built with the Vodacom Foundation over the past 11 years. They have supported many children to receive life changing surgeries across South Africa. This “Tries for Smiles” campaign has ended with personalising their care for the child by making a surprise visit to their school and showing the children in the class that everyone is special.” says Moira Gerstz, Operations Executive Director of the Smile Foundation