The Extra Mile- July 2014: Children's Craniofacial Center/Ray of Hope

By Ngozi Rogers

July 11, 2014 Updated Jul 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. ( This month’s Extra Mile, Circle of Giving recipient is the Children’s Craniofacial Center, a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals working together to bring life-changing care to the one in 1,200 children born with facial abnormalities in the US and around the world…

"We are parents point of contact for information and resources," says Rebecca Ghent RN and founder of the Ray of Hope Medical Mission. "We have examples of parents that weren't expecting cleft palate, cleft lip. We reassure them this is all fixable and just a series of surgeries. We explain all of their options and give them an idea of what the future will hold for the baby. We can be their patient advocate through the whole process."

A process that can involve 10 different specialists in 10 different offices including orthodontics, anesthesiology and plastic surgery. The goal is to make things easy for parents while they’re going through the process by bring it all into one particular organization or area so they don’t have to spend a lot of time getting the resources together.

While every child they treat is uniquely cared for, Sydney Shank is special. She was the first case at the Children's Craniofacial Center when it opened in Fort Wayne in 1996.

"Sydney case involved the entire lip, gum line and palate all the way back so essentially it was one cavity," says Doctor Robert Severinac co-founder of the CCF Center.

Sydney Shank has been through a lot of surgeries but 18 years later, she's done and graduating and heading to Ball State to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Doctor Baron Whateley, co-founder of the CCF Center explains, "Really what we’re doing for our patients is establishing self-esteem so that they can flourish and become self-supportive."

By volunteering to meet together, the medical staff of Children’s Craniofacial Center offers better care more efficiently regardless of the patient's financial ability. In 2012 they expanded their care worldwide by working with Ray of Hope Medical Missions, which brings some of the world’s poorest children born with facial abnormalities to Fort Wayne for life-changing care. The care that the Children’s Craniofacial Center hopes will become a model for other communities. For more information visit

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