Winston Fiore grew up in a middle class family in Bloomington, Indiana. His parents were from Europe, and have a French Restaurant in Bloomington. After graduating from Indiana University he joined the Marines and after training was deployed to Linguere, Senegal, the most western point in Africa. Besides African dialiects French is the main language, and Winston is fluent in French. He worked as an interpreter working with the local commandos. The experience in Senegal was a real culture shock for the Winston. The locals drank tea all day, and there was a sipping sound you were supposed to make when you drank it. Heterosexual males held hands walking down the street as a sign of friendship. When people dined they all ate out of a collective dish rather than having individual plates. He also saw many things that existed simply because of poverty. Although Senegal is more developed than much of Africa, the examples of poverty he saw there were numerous-- women carrying buckets of water many miles on their head, children rummaging through trash for food.
In his tours of duty in Africa and later Afghanistan Winston developed a wanderlust. He decided to dedicate a year to traveling, and he wanted to do most of this on foot to experience this adventure up close and personal and to connect with people. But if he was going to do this grand walk, he wanted to walk for something that would contribute to the betterment of the developing world.
He returned to New York City where he had lived after active duty in 2006. He began researching worthwhile causes, and his dad sent a clipping of the work being done by Dr. W. Geoff Williams, who was Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch Medical Center in Galveston, who had subspecialty training in the treatment of pediatric facial deformities.
There are an estimated 10 million children in developing countries living with correctable physical deformities. Dr. Williams had been donating his surgical expertise in poor countries, at times using his vacation time and paying his own way. Feeling that his efforts were not quite enough in fighting a problem that was too large, he left all practice in the United States at the age of 47 and began volunteering full-time, financing his work largely out of his own savings. Since that time, Dr. Williams has served an average of sixteen surgical missions per year in eight countries.
Dr. Williams, obviously needed a lot of help to carry out these and future missions and in 2005 created the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (www.icsfoundation.org/)to support and sustain the work of changing the lives of third world children---children that would otherwise be confined to lives of seclusion and shame. He furthermore has recruited a wide array of specialists trained in treating childhood deformities including orthopedics, ear-nose-throat, maxillofacial, burns and neurosurgery.
ICSF provides free surgery to third world children suffering from treatable disfigurements. While other organizations perform similar services, ICSF is unique in its philosophies and methods of operation. ICSF believes that large scale missions, in which large numbers of children are treated in a short period of time, are not the answer to the problem at hand – the problem of children suffering with correctable deformities in the developing world. In some of these large missions, up to 180 children are operated upon for cleft deformities in as little as a five day period, which may require surgeons to operate on as many as six children in one day, and then leave a day or two after the last surgery. Some of America’s most renowned cleft surgeons take several hours to perform these delicate operations, a must in their minds for achieving beautiful and long-lasting results. ICSF believes that third world children are no less deserving of similar treatment. ICSF believes so much in delivering quality to these children that they have, on more than one occasion, traveled to a remote region of the world to treat one child in need.
ICSF schedules its missions for much longer periods of time, so each child may receive a full allotment of time and individualized care, as well as post-surgical follow-up. Furthermore, realizing that the best answer is to have well trained local doctors, ICSF identifies and invites dedicated local surgeons to be trained in an intensified, one-on-one basis over a period of years, enabling them to treat and care for their own patients. These trained surgeons will then not only be able to serve each child individually at a normal pace, but will be available for their patients year-round as is the standard in America. In other words, ICSF follows the ancient China proverb: ?give a man a fish and feed him for a day – teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
So Winston, after learning of the prevalence of facial deformities and their devastating affect on the children that have them, and learning about Dr Williams and the ICSF, found a cause that he could publicize and help raise money for—a reason to do his great journey. His plan was to do two 5,000 mile treks to raise awareness and funds for children’s facial reconstructive surgeries in the developing world. The first one started at the Malibu Rotary Club meeting on July 6, and involves riding his motorcycle across the country to Miami, and then finishing near his hometown near Indianapolis, Indiana, speaking at Rotary Club meetings across the country, and tallying their contributions to the International Childhood Surgery Foundation on the website www.smiletrek.org/us-tour. When he completes that trek he plans to fly to southeast Asia and do a 5,000 mile walking trek raising more money for the ICSF. He will be speaking at Rotary Clubs in Asia.
Winston saved enough money while in the service that he can afford to do his long treks on his savings. He is not collecting money during his journey. He is asking individuals and organizations, such as Rotary Clubs, to donate to the International Childhood Surgery Foundation. If one goes to Winston’s www.smiletrek.org website there is a link to donate, that goes to the ICS Foundation(www.icsfoundation.org), and that is how money that he raises on his trip will be tallied. After hearing Winston speak the Rotary Club of Malibu sent a contribution to the ICS Foundation, and thereby became of the official sponsors of Smile Trek (see http://smiletrek.org/sponsors).