A recent fundraiser raised around $8,000 to help fund facial surgeries for children and young adults with deformities or abnormalities, procedures that are done in Hot Springs by local surgeons.
The Faces Foundation's annual Boston smoked butts fundraiser was held last Saturday, smoking over 160 butts and bringing in roughly $10,000. Each pork butt was sold for $55, but some larger donations increased the total substantially. After factoring in the cost of the materials, the foundation raised about $8,000.
It is one of two annual fundraisers that help fund facial surgeries for children and young adults with deformities or abnormalities, anything from cleft palettes to significant overbites or underbites and major injuries.
"Insurance only covers it to a certain point," Ernie Hinz, president and executive director of the organization, said. "And once an individual is considered manageable, where they can eat and drink, then anything beyond that is considered plastic surgery."
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Started by Dr. Daron Praetzel eight years ago, the organization has helped low-income families with children, youths, active military and veterans who experience birth defects, facial scarring, facial abnormalities, burns, and car wreck or war injuries.
"We have individuals out there who have significant issues," Hinz said. "And they just can't get it taken care of."
To qualify, prospective patients fill out an application to be reviewed by the foundation's board. If accepted, the patient must spend 300 hours of sweat equity volunteering for a partnering organization such as Habitat for Humanity or Jackson House.
To complete these hours, patients can recruit a group of volunteers such as a church group, sports team, family or friends. Once complete, they can schedule their surgery.
"Everything is covered, cost-wise for the surgery," Hinz said. "That's post-op, pre-op, the actual surgery itself."
Hinz says Praetzel performs the surgeries for the program and is sometimes assisted by Dr. Aaron Baldwin.
"Of course, they don't charge for that surgery at all," he said. "So, there's no cost to the facility, there's no cost to any individual. Now, there still are some costs we incur as the foundation because we still have to pay the nurses, we still have to pay for the medication."
With each surgery requiring different materials, some can add up to $40,000 or more, but it still costs much less than the same surgery at a hospital.
The organization's other annual fundraiser, the Gowns & Boots Ball, is set for September at Crystal Ridge Distillery.
The Faces Foundation performs all surgeries at 208 McAuley Court.
For more information, visit https://www.fixfaces.org/.