Get ready to celebrate our 18th year and raise a glass, because Mending Kids’ Imagine Gala: The Gift of the Future is happening in just a few short weeks! We couldn't be more excited to reconnect with our Mending Kids family and honor Dr. Robert Cho & Shriners Children's Southern California for making a huge difference in the lives of our children.
Dr. Robert Cho is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and chief of staff at Shriners Children’s Southern California, whose innovative approach to care and commitment to individualized treatment has helped countless children. Through our longstanding partnership, over 40 kids worldwide have had their lives transformed.
We are also so proud to honor Mending Kids patron, Chris Cortazzo, and former patient, Romina Ublillús. We're talking about some serious superheroes!
We need your help to make this event a success, so please grab your family and friends and let's make a difference together! By purchasing tickets or becoming a sponsor, you're not only treating yourself to a night of fun and celebration, you're also saving lives, providing our kids with more birthdays, and helping us to reach our goal of mending our 5000th child in 2023!
What are you waiting for? Imagine Gala: The Gift of the Future is going to be an unforgettable evening, and we can't wait to see you there!
We are beyond excited about our upcoming Imagine Gala on March 18th, where we will be celebrating and honoring Chris Cortazzo with the Love Award. As a Malibu native and real estate icon, Chris has been a good friend to Mending Kids and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on his support.
In addition to our 18th year and honoring Chris, we will be presenting the Mend Award to Dr. Robert Cho and Shriners Children’s Southern California for their longstanding and life-saving partnership with Mending Kids. Last but not least, in recognition of her resilience and inspiration, our former patient from Peru, Romina Ublillús, will receive the Hope Award.
Join us in celebration of our Mending Kids heroes, and help us raise funds to reach our goal of mending our 5000th child in 2023. This is a special opportunity to show your support for the important work we do, and to be a part of something truly meaningful.
We hope to see you on March 18th as we come together to celebrate these inspiring individuals and their contributions to the Mending Kids community.
We are thrilled to announce that Mending Kids will be celebrating its 18th year at the Imagine Gala: The Gift of the Future, on March 18, 2023, at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. This will be a special birthday themed party to commemorate all we’ve accomplished in our mission to provide surgical care to children in need.
We are proud to honor realtor, Chris Cortazzo, our longstanding partners, Dr. Robert Cho & Shriners Medical Center, Pasadena, and former patient, Romina Ublillus. These individuals have made a significant impact on the lives of our children, and we are grateful for their support.
Due to the limited seating, we encourage you to reserve your spot at the event before March 3, 2023. We have a special treat in store for you, as Amy's Culinary Adventure will be serving up delicious food that is sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Funds raised at the Gala will help us reach our 5000th mended child this year, and we can't do it without your support. Your attendance, and generous contributions, will make a life-saving difference for children in need of critical surgical care.
You can now purchase tickets, donate, pay tribute, or become a sponsor. Join us in celebrating 18 years!
Together, we are Mending Kids!
We will be back at the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue to celebrate our 18th year of Mending Kids. For our most important fundraiser of the year, we will recognize our amazing heroes and honorees: Chris Cortazzo, Dr. Robert Cho & Shriners Medical Center - Pasadena, and Romina Ubillús, all in the name of providing critical surgical care for sick children.
Save the date & let’s get this party started!
With your support, we will reach our 5000th child in 2023.
As 2022 comes to an end, and we reflect on the innumerable acts of kindness and support we’ve been shown in our pursuit of saving lives, we want to express our sincere gratitude to all of you. Thanks to your support, we deployed 10 medical missions and provided critical surgical care to 207 children.
As you make new year’s resolutions and set goals for 2023, consider that monthly giving has the most stabilizing impact on our mission to mend more children. For the cost of a cup of coffee, we can provide antibiotics to prevent rheumatic heart disease, or cover the bus fare to get a congenital heart condition diagnosed in time.
Instead of a one-time gift, please consider a manageable monthly gift instead. Your commitment will provide the safety net our vulnerable kids so desperately need. For as little as the cost of a cup of coffee, a child could wake up to a healthy future.
In Mending Kids’ history to date, over 4800 children from 68 countries (including the U.S.) have had their futures transformed. Your support will help us reach our 5000th child in 2023.
Thank you for keeping our kids in your thoughts and for making their lives matter.
We wish you great health and prosperity in the new year to come.
Together, we are mending kids.
Nine years old but the size of a five-year old. This is Mariam, an orphan who suffered from a congenital heart defect. Her disease was so advanced, and walking so exhausting, that she had to be carried 24/7. From a very remote part of Tanzania, she was lucky to be in Dar es Salaam during our mission. We tried all week to figure out how to save her. Dr. Darren Berman, our interventional cardiologist and mission lead, was still not willing to give up on her; none of us were. In the end, she was inoperable and we gave her medicine to keep her comfortable.
Mariam died this week.
It would be easy to post about any one of the more than two hundred children whose lives were transformed by our medical teams in 2022. We are so proud of this accomplishment, and yet, we are taking this opportunity to shine light on a little girl who was too ill to go to school; whose caregivers were too poor to get her heart disease diagnosed in time.
Mariam will never know 2023, or another birthday, and we don’t want her to be just a statistic.
As we all gather and look to the new year for health and prosperity, we ask for your support to ensure we reach more kids like Mariam, before they run out of time.
This is for Mariam. May you rest in peace. May your memory always be a blessing.
On behalf of the board and all of us at Mending Kids, may your futures be bright.
Together, we are mending kids.
I first became aware of Elise when I saw her cute picture on our long list of children waiting to be helped by our Individual Surgical Care program, the program supported by our Kaleidoscope of monthly donors. She was a little over three-years old and living in Cameroon with her family. Born with a malformation of the spine that could not be treated in her country, her family sought help to no avail. Then, Elise's father met a former patient in a Facebook group and was introduced to Mending Kids. Once he reached out to us, the process of getting her help began in earnest. X-Rays & medical exam reports were transmitted to our partners at Shriners Medical Center Pasadena, and Elise was approved for donated surgery. A host family was quickly recruited this time last year. Then, all we needed was the medical visa for her to travel to Los Angeles with a chaperone. A MK volunteer from France, Daphne, stepped up. Elise’s family applied to the U.S. Consulate in Yaoundé for an appointment and presented adorable Elise for the interview. Visa denied;
Grounds: Elise did not have enough financial ties to warrant her return to Cameroon. Curiously, what 5-year-old has financial ties? Elise was specifically traveling without a family member to avoid the temptation for the parent to stay in the U.S. A new reference letter asserting that no taxpayer dollars would be used for her care and guaranteeing her return to Cameroon upon completion of her care was written along with a new medical appointment letter from Shriners. The family applied a second time. Anxiously hoping for a different outcome, Elise waited, continuing to be bullied in school because of her hunched back. Elise and her family returned to the embassy for a second scheduled attempt with all the documentation. Denied! Denied? Why, you ask? Well apparently, the same consular attaché suspected that Mending Kids was trafficking children and that the family had sold her into adoption in the U.S., to our host family, no less. What he thought of Shriners Medical Center (an organization providing care for children since the 20s, with nearly two dozen hospitals nationwide, and internationally), I’m not sure. We are platinum on Charity Navigator, Gold star on GuideStar, 17 years in existence, 4800+ children mended, and we could now add ‘trafficking’ to our list of accomplishments! Incensed was a gross understatement. I quickly googled our district representatives and called on congressman Brad Sherman’s office. First, I had to navigate the screenings by interns to get to someone who was patient enough to hear us out. Three calls later our case was heard and followed up with emails. The congressman’s office agreed to send the embassy in Cameroon confirmation of our legitimacy and to lobby for fair consideration on our behalf. While they were at work on that, empowered by our small victory, I reached out to other local congressional offices whose assistants promised to keep an eye out for us, but out of district courtesy were unwilling to step on congressional toes. Last but not least, I reached out to a Cameroonian-American NGO leader, with his own ties to congress, to call them to attention and throw the kitchen sink at them… Ultimately, Brad Sherman and his office came through for us and the third time was the charm. Our favorite consular attaché approved the visa and we were a go!
Thank you, Congressman Sherman. A board member donated miles to secure last minute airline tickets. Daphne flew to Cameroon to meet Elise and her family for 24 hours and then to escort the 5-year-old to Los Angeles. Of course, they missed their connecting flight in Istanbul and could not get a transit visa for Elise because of her African passport. The two spent the night in the airport (another 12-hour delay) but ultimately made it! After many months of Facetime calls to get used to her host family, Elise finally met Bob and Kate in person and the transfer was a breeze. The road to mending will continue on the 13th of December when little miss firecracker meets her doctor for an evaluation to set a surgical date and the healing, g-d willing, will continue. Sometimes we send a few doctors to mend many and sometimes it takes many to mend one. This is how far we will go to mend a child, but none of it would be possible without you, thank you.
Come along with us on our journey to mend more kids in 2023.
Wishing you great health and wonderful memories in the new year to come.
Do you ever wonder what the impact of your monthly giving is, or how much of a difference we collectively make in the lives of the kids who so desperately need our help? Look no further than this testimonial from the father of Emmanuel:
"Let me introduce myself, I am Mr. Peter I. from Nigeria (husband of Judith) and father of Emmanuel. Honestly, I am very grateful to Mending Kids for the successful surgical mission on my son Master Peter Emmanuel in India. Who would have helped us? Mending Kids swept away our tears and brought back happiness, & joy in our family. It is still like a dream to me that people I have never met or seen took care of my son's heart surgery payments, drugs, housing, food costs, and flight payments to/from India. I can't believe this, but it's real. Tears of joy filled my eyes seeing Emmanuel healthy, breathing properly, and playing, since they returned to Nigeria. I can't thank you enough. We are grateful for everything Mending Kids did for us. I don't have gold and silver to appreciate Mending Kids, God bless you all individually and collectively as an organization abundantly beyond measure. Thanks for everything. Thanks for your compassion. Emmanuel is doing well, and I believe God will make provisions for us to send him to school, when he fully recovers. The crucible is over. I am grateful for everything. Regards to your family too. From Peter, husband of Judith, father of Emmanuel.”
It's after hours on a Thursday night, our team receives a message you never want to hear: Emmanuel, a cardiac patient from Nigeria, has suffered a heart attack the night before his flight to India for surgery. He recovers overnight, but is not stable enough to board the flight with his mother. The airline cancels their tickets and Emmanuel now requires a doctor's letter (on a weekend) identifying a 48 hour window in which he is allowed to board another flight. The doctor’s note is acquired, but the cost of a new ticket on such short notice is ruinous.
As our team huddles for a solution, discussing timelines and an overshot budget, I open an email from Rebecca, a good friend of Mending Kids, asking if I want an upgrade on my way home from the Tanzania mission using her expiring miles. As much as my back and dreams of comfort scream "yes", my mind turns to Emmanuel. I ask Rebecca if I can accept the miles but instead use them to purchase last-minute tickets to save Emmanuel's life.
When Rebecca books Emmanuel’s flight, it all becomes real. She sees his precious face on his passport and the importance of her gift transcends any expectations. Emmanuel has since received life-saving heart surgery and will be returning home today.
All this to say how grateful we are to Rebecca and how things worked out. No one donor, foundation, or company funds Mending Kids. We are all part of the mortar that sustains us and makes our mission possible. From this act of unexpected kindness, we are hopeful there may be more friends out there who would like to help us travel another child to their life-saving care.
Is that person you? The next time you travel, please remember that a gift of miles can help us save one more child and become an investment in a lifetime of smiles.
Grateful that, together, we are mending kids.