The Foundation for Faces of Children sponsored the Pendleton family to attend the Children’s Craniofacial Association (CCA)’s 2019 Family Retreat and Educational Symposium in Scottsdale, AZ. The 4 day retreat provides individuals affected by a facial difference an opportunity to interact with others who have endured similar experiences, share ideas, problems and solutions and form life-long friendships.

Here is the Pendleton family’s experience at the 2019 Retreat:

By Jessica Pendleton

One of the many pleasures of being a parent is those times when you see your child completely happy, which is the gift we received during the three days of this year’s CCA Retreat.

Which is no small gift, considering that we also received warm welcomes from CCA staff and families (particular shout out to the Barbalaci family: CJ, Bette, Jessica, and Sprout), attended inspirational and informative presentations, and witnessed other children and families experiencing unbridled and unabashed joy.

The Symposium was a good way to begin the retreat; it was gratifying to hear surgeon Dr. Singh reinforce her belief that timeline of care is as dependent on individual patient needs as it is concrete procedures, and hearing the personal stories of Rasheera Dopson and Jono Lancaster was moving and inspirational. Still, nothing affected us quite as much as seeing our twelve year old Aimee so quickly and easily make friends, and how they all fully accepted and embraced each other as though they had been friends all their lives. These are relationships that I could see becoming life-long. In Aimee’s own words: 

“The first person I met was Kassidy. I met her at the Childroom; she was super nice, and as we got to know each other we became closer friends. Her brother Will was also super kind and caring. The second person I met was Aimi. I saw her at the Childroom and we started talking at ‘What’s Your Superpower’, and that’s where we became friends. She was nice sweet and her family was super kind. The third person I met was Nick; just like me also had a cleft lip and palate. Kassidy and I first met him at the pool playing volleyball, then I saw him again at the cleft lip and palate presentation, and from that day on we became good friends. The last people I met were Emma and Catherine. I saw them at the cleft lip and palate presentation, then I saw them at the pool and we started to get to know each other there. At the end we all got to know each other and they became the best friend group I ever had.” 

So thank you, CCA and FFC, for the wonderful opportunity and the wonderful weekend. We’ve already decided that our annual vacation goals will include the CCA Retreat, and we hope that we’ll be able to see you all again next year.