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Team AmaGumGum goes the extra smile

DSC06321 (884x1280)Cipla Miles for Smiles Mad Run

This September IVOhealth and Sunstar GUM celebrated national Oral Health Month on the run – sponsoring Team AmaGumGum for the Cipla Miles for Smiles Mad Run, in support of Operation Smile. Team AmaGumGum, aka Cape Town dentist Dr Jean van Lierop and running buddy William Ruijsch van Dugteren, took on the seven day 261kms trail running challenge to help rebuild the smiles of children with cleft lips and cleft palates.

The Cipla Miles for Smiles Mad Run was the brainchild of Dr van Lierop who joined Cipla Miles for Smiles ultra-runners David Grier and Andrew Stuart to run the 37+kms Table Mountain Challenge (TMC) route seven times, over seven days (from 7 to 13 September). “What an incredible experience. There were some tough moments, especially on the fifth and sixth days, but the great camaraderie among the teams carried us through,” says van Lierop who is a keen trail runner, but far from a professional athlete.  “Guts and determination got us through.”

Knowing that the Mad Run would be directly changing the lives of children with cleft lips and cleft palates motivated the runners. “We shouldn’t underestimate the impact a smile has on a person’s life,” said van Lierop.

Six-month old Karli Pienaar was the first to benefit, with her surgery coinciding with the last day of the run. “The Pienaar family are just one of those, whose hearts you have collectively touched. There are many more lives are being changed in Madagascar at the moment and there are many more to come. On behalf of the Pienaar family, baby Karli and Operation Smile, well done and thank you,” said Adva Brivik of Operation Smile.

“I am grateful and impressed with all the runners who took part, especially David Grier who helped make it happen,” said van Lierop.

According to David Grier, Managing Trustee of Cipla SA Foundation, approximately 1 in 700 children worldwide is born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or both. A baby born with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before celebrating their first birthday. “Malnutrition, medical and psychological problems also compound the problem. Life can be a tough and complicated place for children and not being able to smile shouldn’t have to limit their experience of the world.”

People who wish to show their support to the runners and donate to Operation Smilemay do so by visiting http://milesforsmiles.co.za/make-a-donation. To see photos from the challenge and the children they are uplifting through surgery, visit www.facebook.com/madrunct.

The Cipla Miles for Smiles Mad Run was proudly supported by Sunstar GUM, Hout Bay Dental Studios, Cipla SA, Operation Smile, Velocity, Aca Joe and Adidas.


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