A Carmel woman is making a huge difference in a nation struggling with poverty and inspiring people in her circle locally to take action and be part of a solution.
WRTV's August 2023 Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good recipient is Dr. Madelyn Stazzon.
Stazzone launched a massive humanitarian effort over a decade ago and founded the "Pediatric Orthopedic Project," or POP.
The non-profit provides free orthopedic surgeries for children in impoverished nations.
Stazzone volunteers her time running the organization, but she also spends much of her year coordinating the resources, medical staff, funding, travel plans and other logistics to make annual trips from Indiana to Santiago, Dominican Republic to provide surgeries for roughly seven to ten children each year.
POP has treated more than 100 kids since 2012.
"There's no greater privilege than to be used to change the life of another," Stazzone said after she was presented with the Jefferson Award medal.
Most of the surgeries provided by the POP team treat scoliosis, a debilitating curvature of the spine. These procedures not only correct a physical deformity, but they also empower the kids emotionally and socially in a culture that Stazzone says ostracizes children with physical disabilities.
Many of those children are able to attend school after they heal.
Stazzone's husband is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and also serves on the POP team.
In addition to performing surgeries, they train Dominican doctors and nurses, so they can carry on the work and help even more children year-round.
Stazzone tells WRTV that she and her husband are working to expand their mission trips to other nations.
Each year that Stazzone's POP team returns to Dominican Republic for its medical mission, it holds a reunion celebration for past patients.
Stazzone said she receives copies of her past patients report cards, pictures of their weddings and even of their growing families.
"To have someone look you in the eye and say, 'Because of you and your team, we now have opportunity to study. We have an opportunity to get married.' It's just amazing," Stazzone said.
To learn more about POP and the humanitarian work they are doing you can visit their website at PopHopeTeam.org.