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Spicer, Minn., girl raises money to help kids with same medical conditions she has

SPICER -- Autumn Williams, 10, of Spicer, raised $283.75 for Operation Smile at her lemonade stand last weekend. Her goal was $240.

Operation Smile mobilizes medical volunteers across the globe to treat children with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities.

The daughter of Beau and Jill Williams, Autumn was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate and a variety of other conditions that have had the young girl undergoing a variety of procedures since she was five months old.

Autumn had her cleft lip repaired at the age of five months and went through biweekly visits to have the lip moved into place by orthopedic manipulation and nasoalveolar molding. She had her cleft palate repaired when she was nine months old.

She had tubes in her ears three times in two years, palate revision in 2003, pharyngeal flap repair in 2005 and a bilateral alveolar bone graft in 2010 involving bone taken from her hip and placed in two spaces in her upper jaw.

"They will never tell you when she will be done with surgeries," Autumn's mother, Jill, wrote in an email to the Tribune.

"She will need tooth implants for missing teeth, rhinoplasty to fix her collapsed nostril, scar revision for her upper lip, and that is just what we know about now," Jill wrote.

Autumn goes to the University of Minnesota Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Clinic every year in June for her checkups.

All the care Autumn receives is possible because her family has insurance.

But many children's families -- especially in the Third World -- don't have insurance or access to doctors trained to treat such conditions.

They're the people Autumn wanted to help.

Besides lemonade, Autumn sold puppy chow, almond bark pretzels, trail mix and chocolate chip cookies with smiley faces on them.

Autumn's sisters, Hannah and Kaisa Williams, and her cousin, Tyler Danielson, helped at the stand. Her mother and grandmother, Cheryl Danielson, also helped.

In another effort to raise money for Operation Smile, Autumn will be saving aluminum cans all winter. She hopes to bring them into the recycling center on Earth Day because she heard they pay double on that day.

Gary Miller

Gary Miller is a Designer for Forum Communications Co. Born and attended public schools in Willmar, Minn. Served 20 years in U.S. Navy as a photojournalist. Worked at West Central Tribune and Forum Communications since retiring from the Navy in 1994.

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