Peggy's Story

30 June 2015 | Smile Train

Peggy was a generous and caring donor to Smile Train. She had a special affinity for the children and families around the world impacted by cleft lip and palate.


Peggy was born with a severe cleft palate, enduring four surgeries within the first two years of life. However, given the surgical techniques and technology available at that time, the surgeries did not entirely repair the damage to her palate. Peggy was not able to nurse, use a bottle or eat properly, and she understood at a profound level what real hunger meant. She did not want children born with clefts to suffer through childhood like she did. To that end, she was a significant contributor to Smile Train for many years.

When Peggy passed away in 2014, she left Smile Train an extraordinarily generous bequest, which Smile Train has used with her family's blessing for special match challenges to encourage other donors to give and increase the size of their gifts. Peggy understood that children with clefts in the developing world are especially vulnerable, and her bequest has greatly enhanced Smile Train's efforts to bring life-changing, and often lifesaving, cleft care to more children in need.

Peggy's bequest will provide free cleft surgery for 4,000 children — truly an incredible legacy of support. Peggy's sister Helen, who is also the executrix of Peggy's estate, has noted:

"Peggy is no doubt smiling as she sees the impact of her gift, which is creating smiles for so many children. Our family is so pleased that Smile Train has utilized her gift in a way that means more children will get the care they so urgently need."

Helen shared with us that Peggy was a person of faith, leaving instructions to inscribe on her headstone a saying that guided Peggy in difficult times during her life, "Ask Love or Stay Stuck. God is Love." Her only burial instructions were that this maxim had to be larger than any other part of the inscription, including her name, so that it could endure for others to remark and remember.

Smile Train was honored to install a plaque in Peggy's memory at one of our key partner hospitals in Brazil, Centrinho Joinville in Santa Catarina. The plaque was unveiled at Centrinho Joinville's 25th anniversary of providing highly-regarded service focusing on cleft lip and palate repair.