Skip to main content

Kupchella treks to Peru for Smile Network

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Photo: Rick Kupchella at Machu Picchu in Peru in 2006

I'm embarking upon an all-out adventure next week. My daughter, Elizabeth, and I are hiking the Inca Trail in Peru as part of a program with Smile Network International.

In short, “Smile” is a Minnesota-based humanitarian organization dedicated to the repair of cleft lips and palates of children in developing countries around the globe. In the last nine years, we’ve conducted 50 missions at 24 surgical sites around the world, performing surgeries on 2,500 children.

The trek will literally retrace the steps of the Incas over four days at elevations from 7,000 to nearly 14,000 feet. It ultimately concludes at the Gate of the Sun and onto the sacred grounds of Machu Picchu. It will be a spectacular – arduous – and transformative experience.

In the last couple days of our trip, we'll join the medical team in Lima as they begin the process of screening children at the primary children’s hospital in Peru to see the results of our effort in person. We'll witness and experience the life-changing surgeries.

Last year, I took on the role of Chairman of the Board at Smile Network International. I’ve long admired this group both for what they do and how they do it.

The principal work, of course, is the medical relief effort itself. With these surgeries (costing about $500, and accomplished in little more than 45 minutes) they change the life of a child forever. That’s a simple and profound fact.

Smile also has a tradition of offering its donors and medical teams signature experiences in faraway and exotic locations, in an effort to connect the public with its mission. In Peru – it’s the Inca Trail. In Tanzania – it’s Kilimanjaro. We have also done custom trips in Ecuador (horseback riding in the Ecuadorian Highlands), Mexico (bike riding in the Badlands), and treks to the Himalayan Mountains.

As a participant in this particular mission, I'm reaching out to my own network – explaining the work of Smile Network and encouraging folks to donate in honor of our trek, with all the donations going toward the mission. It is not uncommon for our Adventure Travel participants to raise 100 percent of the money for the adjacent medical mission. One hundred percent of all donations pay for the surgeries of the children. And here's where I need your help.

Elizabeth and I are trying to raise $5,000 for Smile Network International – by Monday! God help us! And YOU TOO if you can?!

And hey, while we recognize this is not something every person has the time or money to participate in – for those who can find a way to plan for it, keep an eye on Smile Network for future destinations. It promises to be the trip of a lifetime.

Smile Network and I thank you sincerely for considering a donation.

Check out more: Kupchella Smiles 2013 and Smile Network.

-rk

P.S. Stay tuned to BringMeTheNews for updates. I'll be filing from the trek (may be time delayed depending on connectivity) but I plan to publish a daily log and send photos of kids from the mission at Lima.

Next Up

Tettegouche State Park bridge

Trails reopen as waters subside, but bridges damaged at Tettegouche State Park

Water levels on the river have dropped about six to eight feet since Friday.

Keith Harvell

Body pulled from Mississippi River ID'd as missing Elk River man

Keith Harvell had been missing since early last month.

900 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota - July 2021

2 victims identified in double-fatal north Minneapolis shooting

A 21-year-old man and a 51-year-old man were identified as the people who died at the scene this past weekend.

Proctor football

Former Proctor HS football player pleads guilty to sexual assault of teammate

The case will also remain in juvenile court, with conditions.

Doug Wardlow

Doug Wardlow reneges on promise, will challenge GOP's AG candidate in primary

Wardlow's announcement sparked swift criticism from the MN GOP and the party-endorsed candidate, Jim Schultz.

Flickr - welcome to minnesota sign - Tony Webster

US News '150 Best Places to Live' features 1 from MN, 3 from WI

The latest US News list is for the most populous metro areas only, so no small towns.

tornado

7 tornadoes touched down last week in western MN, ND

Two of the seven were EF-2 level tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, May 17

72 hours of case data reported over the weekend is included in Tuesday updates.

Stallings surveillance footage - screengrab - crop

City of Minneapolis, Jaleel Stallings reach $1.5M settlement

Although a settlement was made, the city will not admit fault or take any responsibility for the incident as part of the agreement with Stallings.

Kayak

2 rescued after kayaks capsize on Sauk River

Recent heavy rainfall produced a strong currents on the water.

Related