Cleft Palate Gallop to Benefit UNC Craniofacial Center

Miles for Smiles, a student organization at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, was formed to promote good health through running and to support the UNC Craniofacial Center.

So it was only a matter of time that the nonprofit group would sponsor a road race to benefit the UNC Craniofacial Center. The first annual Cleft Palate Gallop 5K will take place on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus at 9 a.m. Sept. 27, starting and finishing at the Old Well.

The race’s name is catchy, but Miles for Smiles co-president and 2008 DDS graduate Dr. Keith Nicholson said he hopes the UNC Craniofacial Center’s mission is what stays in people’s minds.

“Our organization was launched on the tenets of fitness and increasing access to care for craniofacial patients,” said Nicholson, also an AEGD resident at the School of Dentistry. “Running took on a whole new dynamic when it morphed into a fund-raiser for the UNC Craniofacial Center.

“There are a host of expenses with treating craniofacial patients, and our money goes directly to financing these costs, such as operating room expenses.  We are excited about our inaugural race this fall and invite others to join us in our dual causes.”

National statistics place the prevalence of cleft lip and cleft palate at one out of every 700 to 1,000 births. The multidisciplinary UNC Craniofacial Center provides treatment for cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. Faculty and staff members represent a wide range of fields, including audiology, dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, speech pathology, social work and other specialty areas.

All proceeds from the Cleft Palate Gallop 5K will benefit the UNC Craniofacial Center. Those who register will receive a T-shirt. The top three male and female finishers will receive prizes, and door prizes also will be raffled.

Online registration is now open and accessible at the race Web site: www.cleftpalategallop.com.  Check-in and day-of registration will be held from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the Old Well. For more information, e-mail Miles for Smiles co-presidents Allison Cavenaugh, allisonc@email.unc.edu, and Keith Nicholson, kcnichol@email.unc.edu.