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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quiero Sonreír...I Want to Smile

Mariel Hawley completed her English translation of her fascinating Spanish-language book Días Azules (Water Days).

The book covers many events in her life from her record-setting four-way relay crossing of the English Channel with Jorge Urreta, Luis Pineyro, Omar Díaz González, Alejandro Moreno and Mayalen Noriega to her charity swims on behalf of the Quiero Sonreír project.

She writes, "The Quiero Sonreír (I Want to Smile) project began taking shape with the Sport City-Mexico four-way relay attempt in the English Channel.

All of the members of the relay (myself included) thought that the swim needed an altruistic twist. We wanted to reach out and touch the lives of other people through our efforts in the water. Our relay, which consisted of four men and two women, decided that children would be the ultimate target, and it occurred to me that we could swim to aid children with CLP. Without hesitation, I proposed to my teammates that we raise money in order to pay for surgeries to correct this condition. I invited them to the Brimex Clinic, which belongs to The American British Cowdray Medical Center in Mexico and is where surgery is provided to children lacking financial means. After a visit, they unanimously approved of the cause.

It is believed that CLP is a minor condition that is relatively easy to correct and that the corrections involved do not result in any major complications; however, this is not the case. Every year, approximately 2,000 children in Mexico are born with CLP. These cases not only include cleft lip, but also cleft palate in most situations. For these children, the first three weeks of life are critical due to lack of suction and major difficulties with swallowing. Their parents commonly do not have the skills required to face this problem, and in some cases the consequences are fatal. Thanks to the efforts of all of the members of the Sport City English Channel Relay Team (Mayalen, Luis, Omar, Jorge, Alejandro and myself), which swam the four-way relay across the English Channel in 2007, the Quiero Sonreír project began. To this day, the project continues with its mission to reach out, touch and transform the lives of the many children in Mexico born with CLP
." Escort pilot Mike Oram said afterwards, "I never imagined that a relay formed by people so different could achieve something as impressive as they did."

For more information, visit her website here.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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