GALLERY | Copter flip puts patients on high

The smiles of four little patients lit up a gloomy morning as they prepared for their special helicopter flip around Port Elizabeth – a prize donated to them by a boy who was once in their shoes.

All four – who had plastic surgery during Smile Week in August – were about to fly in the bright yellow chopper thanks to a Knysna boy who himself had to get surgery for a cleft palate.

The Smile Foundation coordinates Smile Week to assist kids who need plastic surgery.

The four were all geared up for the helicopter trip on Wednesday and were adamant they were not afraid of flying.

“I am already brave,” Ryan Andrews, 6, of Bethelsdorp, said.

The Smile Foundation’s Port Elizabeth co-ordinator, Tanya Jackson, said that earlier in the year it offered a helicopter flip around the city as a prize for the child raising the most money for the foundation doing the IronKids event, held the same weekend as the Ironman competition in Port Elizabeth.

Oliver Hansson, 8, and his sister Nellie, 7, raised more than R11,000 for the foundation and won the prize.

Their mother, Therese Hansson, said her children immediately asked her to give the prize to someone else.

“Oliver said he would rather like some of the patients from Smile Week to take the trip,” Hansson said.

“Oliver was born with a cleft palate and my husband and I have always been Smile [Foundation] ambassadors.”

Ryan’s dad, Riaan, said his son was born with a condition called Stahl’s ears.

“His ears looked like a little elf’s ears.”

Ryan started school this year and was teased about his ears.

“I took him to Cape Town, but then they said we can have his procedure done in Port Elizabeth during Smile Week,” Riaan said.

Another excited first-time flyer, Mihalali Phiri, 8, was attacked by a pitbull during Smile Week in August.

“I am very grateful [for Smile Week]. Now my child can have a smile,” his mother, Eunice, said.

Constance Nkazana, of New Brighton, said she heard about the Smile Foundation on the radio after years of struggling to find a solution for her son Thulani, 10, who has a recurring growth on his cheek.

She was very excited to get help during Smile Week.

“When I told Thulani about the helicopter ride he was very excited,” she said. “He was up at 3am [to get going].”

Zintle Bosman’s son, Lunje, 2, sustained a head injury in a car accident in Smile Week.

“I was so happy that they could help him,” she said.