More than 10 years ago when Jeffrey Weinzweig first saw the work of now deceased French surgeon Paul Tessier and how it transformed a child's severely deformed face into a more normal and functioning smile, he was hooked.
Highland Park resident Weinzweig, now a plastic surgeon who is director of JW Medical Group in Chicago and Highland Park, followed Tessier's lead. That's when he formed Komedyplast, an association of surgeons and other medical professionals nationwide who volunteer their time and talent to resculpt the faces of poor children with deformities in Peru.
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"As soon as I saw Dr. Tessier's work, I felt compelled to pursue that," Weinzweig said.
The native New Yorker moved to Highland Park about 4 years ago to get married and raise their two sons. While he's blessed with beautiful children, he continues his missions once a year in Peru, usually in February, to perform surgeries on as many as 20 children each time. Then throughout the year, he follows up with his team there to see how the children are doing.
KomedyPlast also teamed up Caring Clowns International, a group of professional clowns based in Seattle that helps to alleviate fear and anxiety in the children as they go through the medical process.
"These surgeries are often complex, because we literally are taking their skulls apart," Weinzweig said.
The doctors pay for their own expenses on the trip and medical equipment has been donated, he said.
The mission work was recently recognized by Victor Isla Rojas, president of the congress in Peru, who presented Weinzweig and his team with certificates of honor for their care of the local children.
"Every time I return, I'm completely blown away by these children," Weinzweig said. You can just see they that there's hope in their eyes."
Feeding first-responders for free
Howard Bender, owner of Schmaltz Delicatessen in Naperville, offered first-responders to the flood-soaked city a chance to grab a quick sandwich -- for free. He said he posted the promotion on Facebook "as we saw and heard so many friends, Schmaltz fans, and family having a rough day to say the least." He said they needed a break. "They are awesome and deserve it," he said.
Uncle Dougie's is official
Hampshire resident Doug Tomek's Uncle Dougie's, which makes barbecue sauces and other food products, said he now has the official barbecue sauce and Bloody Mary mix of the Chicago Cubs. He founded the company in 1989 and has since dished up marinades, sauces, rubs, salad dressings and drink mixes without preservatives or fillers. The company playfully promotes them with its "No Crap" symbol. We featured him in the Daily Herald in January.
... And speaking of the Cubs
Chef Alain Roby of Geneva's All Chocolate Kitchen created an all-chocolate bust of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. The bust was made to benefit Cubs Charities, and was presented to Banks at the recent Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier. Roby holds three Guinness World Records for large-scale chocolate and sugar creations.
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Esther Wong, president and CEO of Laboratory School for Science & Technology in Naperville, is encouraging parents and students to attend an April 26 event about social entrepreneurship and innovation and how this can impact their education, college, and careers. "High school students are rarely exposed to business start ups so we are providing them the opportunity to meet and hear Dennis Barsema and Alan Hurt of Light Up Africa," she said.
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