Three Little Bears



Lisa Lori knows too well the heartache of a mother whose child can’t smile. Her three sons, Zachary, Luke and Griffin, were born with an extremely rare form of facial paralysis. Their unusual conditions—an enduring medical mystery—made grins impossible and eating and speaking extremely difficult.

The boys’ complicated medical needs led Lisa and her husband, Mathew, on a painstaking international search for intervention. Help finally came from Dr. Ronald Zuker, a Toronto-based pediatric plastic surgeon, who performed a series of transplants on each boy; extracting muscle from their legs and implanting it in their faces.

Eleven-year-old Zachary, Lisa’s oldest, was the first to have the procedure in 2009, which involved two surgeries and a painful recovery: “The first time he smiled, we were in Target. And I told him, ‘Zach, I think your face just moved.’ If you’ve never seen your child smile, well, I can’t begin to describe how overwhelming that is.”

In gratitude for that smile Lisa, a Greenwich-based public relations executive and her close friend, luxury handbag designer Kathy Van Zeeland have collaborated on a pay-it-forward project intended to help parents around the world see their children smile too.

Together, the former high school track teammates have created three cuddly stuffed bears to benefit Operation Smile, the international nonprofit that brings surgeries to Second and Third World children with cleft lips, palates and other facial deformities. Since Dr. Zuker is a frequent Operation Smile volunteer, “this is our way of saying thanks to him the best way we can,” says Lisa.

For $240—roughly the cost of some Operation Smile surgeries—donors can purchase two Zachary, Luke or Griffin bears. One bear goes to the donor, the other to an Operation Smile patient to use as a comfort object. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the bears’ sales go to the charity, because Kathy and her husband, fellow accessories designer Bruce Makowsky, have completely underwritten their costs.

The Lori boys, Greenwich Catholic students who range in age from eleven to eight, also got in on the charitable act, selecting the bears’ signature purple, blue and brown T-shirts. Lisa especially loves that the project puts a snuggly toy in the hands of children about to have surgery: “Some of the kids having these surgeries live in extreme poverty. It’s not unusual for them to arrive for surgery with nothing.”

Talking up the bears has also provided a welcome outlet for the family: “We had always dealt with the boys’ conditions very privately. But this has been a way to answer questions that made a lot of people feel uncomfortable,” Lisa says. “These are very treatable conditions, but so often they don’t get treated because of poverty or access to medical care. We were tenacious and able to advocate for our kids, but in the Third World most parents don’t have the resources.”

So far the project has raised $45,000. And a first shipment of bears recently joined an Operation Smile mission to Morocco. “To see that Zachary bear in a little boy’s arms was extraordinary,” says Lisa.  “It only makes me want to do more.” —Beth Cooney Fitzpatrick

The bears are available at operationsmile.org/fbcatalog or at operationsmile.org/bears.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...


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