BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Emmalyn was born with a common birth condition, a cleft lip/palate. Her life with this condition is not met with loneliness, however, but rather, a lot of joy.
“She is resilient,” said April Allgood, mother of 4-year-old Emmalyn.
Emmalyn was born with a cleft lip and her parents, April and Jack, do everything in their power each day to educate people over awareness of this condition, what it means, and how it affects the child and their families.
“It can be hard sometimes. You have to take a deep breath and use that opportunity for education,” said April.
Since Emmalyn is only four-years-old, almost five, she doesn’t quite have a recollection of her two surgeries as an infant, but, she knows that she is special and that “God made her special”.
She also knows that her puppy Maverick was made special.
April and her husband Jack are a part of a support group online for children with cleft lips. That group catapulted their journey to adopting Maverick.
“Through there we were able to see a post from Legendary Smiles which is a nonprofit. They reached out to Riley and we found Maverick,” said April.
“Celeste Edwards from Heavenly Cockapoos reached out to Riley because a puppy in her litter was born with a cleft lip and she was wanting to find a cleft-affected family,” said Monica Bush, founder of Legendary Smiles, a nonprofit to help support families in the cleft and craniofacial community.
Then, Caitlyn Church, who works on the cleft team at Riley reached out to Legendary Smiles and found Maverick to be a perfect match for the family.
April and Jack believe that Maverick and Emmalyn were meant to be. They have a bond that cannot be broken.
April said that Emmalyn will always tell Maverick, “You’re such a cleftie cutie like me” and “You’re special, just like me, God made you just the way he made me because I have a cleft lip and so do you”.
“She thinks it’s super cool,” said April.
“That was the first thing she noticed about him,” said Jack. “When we showed her the picture she knew that he had a cleft lip and recognized it right away.”
Jack and April never told their daughter that Maverick also had a cleft lip, she just knew.
When Emmalyn was only two and a half months old she had her first surgery at Riley. This was the surgery in which she received her “forever smile”, as it is known in the cleft and craniofacial community.
Then, at almost 11 months of age, she had her palate fixed. Emmalyn still has about two surgeries left to go in her lifetime. For right now, however, her team at Riley is just letting her be a kid.
Emmalyn began preschool for the first time this week. She enjoys playing soccer and dancing and hanging out with her friends.
Emmalyn, April, Jack, and Maverick are a strong, faith-filled family. Jack and April’s advocacy of the cleft world does not go unnoticed. The couple strives every day to make sure that their daughter knows how special she is, how she can do anything she puts her mind to, and how her condition is not a disability, but rather, a special mark God left on her…
And Maverick, too.
For more information about the cleft and craniofacial community, you can visit this website. For more information about Emmalyn’s care team at Riley and the amazing work they are performing each and every day, you can visit here.