The Mission of Love will host a fundraiser Feb. 28, Fat Tuesday, at The Manor, 3104 S. Canfield Niles Road, Austintown.
Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase medical supplies for a mission trip to Guatemala that could several young lives.
On March 3, the Mission of Love team, consisting of doctors, surgeons and nurses, will board an airliner and head to Guatemala. They will be there for a week and will perform around 40 or more surgeries.
The 2016 Mission of Love trip to Guatemala included the following volunteers, most of whom will be there again in March of this year. In the front row are Dr. Todd Bolitin, Dr. Lilly Gabriela Espana of Guatemala and Cindy Scheetz of Dublin, Ohio. In the second row are Iza of Guatemala, Dr. Frinee Mendez of Guatemala and Dr. Claudia Christina Corzantes of Guatemala. In the third row are Dr. Edgar Moran of Guatemala and Joyce Rush of Dublin, Ohio. In the fourth row are Mission of Love Director and founder Kathleen Price of Austintown and Kurt Zabel of Boardman. In the fifth row are Bob Price of Austintown, Dakota Williamson of Seattle, Wash., and Chuck Scheetz of Boardman. In the back row are Dr. Guillermo Chacon of Seattle, Wash., Derick Scheetz of Dublin and Dr. Richard Scheetz of Dublin.
Each one of the medical professionals will pay their own way to Guatemala to help the Mayan children.
"There are many hands and hearts involved in the U.S. and Guatemala just to make one surgery happen," Mission of Love Director Kathy Price of Austintown said.
Mission of Love is a nonprofit organization founded by Price in 1989. Its primary goal is to help the poor of third world countries, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and hurricane victims through its airlifts and truck transports of medical supplies, clothes, school supplies, building supplies and emergency vehicles.
But this is only a band aid to a much larger issue, Price said. The organization, consisting of all volunteers, want to empower communities so they can eventually help themselves in the fight against poverty.
Price said the volunteers also will bring the medical supplies needed for the surgeries since many hospitals don't have basics such as gauze and other items that are common in U.S. hospitals. The Fat Tuesday event will help raise the funds to cover the cost of those supplies.
"Because we are all volunteers, every dollar donated can generate $122 in goods and humanitarian aide for the world's indigenous children," Price said. "Without us, there is no way these children would receive treatment."
Among the medical team heading to Guatemala is Dr. Rick Sheetz, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from Dublin, Ohio. He is preparing for his fifth trip to Guatemala through the Mission of Love. In 2016, he led a team that evaluated 45 children and adults and provided 38 facial and craniofacial surgeries.
"Untreated cleft kids are frequently malnourished already, coming from an area of malnutrition and complicated by their deformity," Sheetz said. "We frequently see them small for their age due to this combination. I cannot predict how long they would live, but they are at a severe disadvantage especially since most of these indigenous people are malnourished to begin with. That is one possible reason why they have so many of these deformities."
Sheetz got involved with Mission of Love through his brother, Chuck Sheetz, a resident from Poland who now lives in Boardman. He also mentioned another Boardman friend who had a lot to do with his coming on board.
"Chuck's friend and my high school classmate at Boardman High School, Kurt Zabel, has also been present from the beginning," Sheetz said. "Chuck and Kurt have soft hearts and were recruited heavily by Kathy Price. They had another surgeon involved, but he was in the process of moving to California and since he was the only one, I was recruited. I then recruited more people, and with the help of some to recruit others, a whole group of talented surgeons, surgical techs and volunteers are now critical parts of our team."
Each surgery the team handles requires a Guatemalan anesthesiologist, one to two oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and a surgical nurse or surgical technician. The team is also joined by Guatemalan general surgeons Dr. Edgar Moran and Dr. Edwin Moran, who both care deeply for their people.
Besides the medical and surgery segment of the trip, Price also brings other life-changing items with the supply pallets. Among the items are wheelchairs and crutches. These gifts help people and children leave their homes for the first time in their lives.
The equipment and supplies are flown to Guatemala using the Denton Program, which has been around since the 1970s and is a win-win for everyone. The program allows donors, including U.S. citizens and organizations, to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods and equipment to countries in need. The humanitarian supplies are delivered while Air Force crews get real-life, hands-on training and experience.
"We will be making our 60th flight under the Denton Program," Price said. "We have flown buses, ambulances, tons of corn, medical supplies, clothing, toys, etc., using this program."
The supplies will arrive by March 3 and will be there when the volunteer medical teams land. They will have one day to get settled before beginning the surgeries that start at 8 a.m. and proceed as late as 9 p.m. The children served are the worse cases among more than 80 children who need medical attention.
Every child who undergoes the surgery will receive their very own quilt, new clothes, a stuffed animal and the support needed for post-surgery care. The quilts donated are a story of their own, Price said.
Throughout the past month, Price has received quilts from all over the world. The quilts are handmade and often contain a message of love either sewn into the quilt or accompanying it as a note card. Price has been receiving boxes of 10 to 20 quilts almost every day, she said. Often the quilts are boxed by quilting clubs from around the globe.
While the quilts are appreciated, the need for medical supplies means raising funds, and that is what the Fat Tuesday event will do. The event at The Manor will feature a New Orleans-style cuisine, or as Price called it, a Creole dinner, as well as a musicl performance by jazz musician Teddy Pantelas, who was volunteered on mission trips with Misson of Love. Event tickets are $30 each.
"Medical supplies and equipment and logistics cost money, and we need your help," said Sheetz. "Please help us by attending this event."
He said people can visit the Mission of Love website at www.missionoflove.org to see the mission team's accomplishments made possible by financial support.
"This mission has been life-changing - not only for me but also anyone who has gone," Sheetz said. "As an example, we once finished a small operation and Dr. Todd Bolotin, an emergency department physician from Youngstown, translated to the mother what was done and that it went well. She talked to him in Spanish for quite some time. When I asked him what she had said, he told me he couldn't because he would start crying. He only said she was amazingly thankful."