The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

April 20, 2012

Girl forgoes birthday to brighten poor kids’ lives

JOHNSTOWN — Page Prebehalla was so inspired by her grandmother’s desire to help children suffering from cleft lips and palates that she wanted to do the same.

For her 16th birthday on March 7, Page asked family members and friends attending her birthday party to donate money to Smile Train instead of buying her gifts.

Smile Train provides free cleft surgeries to poor children in developing countries. Surgery to correct a cleft costs as little as $250, said Smile Train’s website.

In November, Page’s grandmother, Mary Prebehalla of the West End neighborhood of Johnstown, asked family members to donate money for Smile Train instead of buying her birthday gifts. A total of $250 was raised for the charity.

“That got me thinking about helping Smile Train also,” the girl said.

For her birthday, Page raised $1,250 for Smile Train.

“My birthday gifts will help five children,” said the daughter of Mike and Heather Prebehalla of Conemaugh Township, Somerset County.

Both Page and her grandmother will receive photographs of the children they are sponsoring.

It’s not the first time that Page has placed others before herself during her birthday.

In 2009, she and a classmate, Kristan Rouser, helped child burn victims by asking classmates, family and friends for monetary donations instead of buying gifts for their 13th birthdays.

The pair raised more than $3,000 for the International Association of Fire Fighters’ Burn Foundation. Her father, a Johnstown firefighter, is a member of the association.

“I just really wanted to help,” Page said about why she gave up her gifts on both birthdays.



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