Two Iowa neighbors, Isabel Bloom and Mike Wolfe of "American Pickers," have collaborated to create a new sculpture to help support children born with cleft lips and cleft palates.
Charlie's Smile, which hit Isabel Bloom's shelves Wednesday, is a sculpture of a little girl sitting on a dog. It is named for Wolfe's daughter, Charlie, who was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
Wolfe, the creator and executive producer of the History cable TV series "American Pickers," approached Isabel Bloom about the collaboration.
Donna Young, the company's co-owner and sculptor, said she met Wolfe over the summer when Isabel Bloom opened a showroom in LeClaire, home of "American Pickers." She said Wolfe showed Young a photo of Charlie sitting on her favorite dog. "She was wearing a pink tutu and matching boots. He suggested I create a sculpture to raise awareness and support for the cause," she said.
"Anytime it makes sense for Isabel Bloom to be part of a greater cause we love that, and when it is in line with what we do — smiling children — it's perfect," she said. "Every child should have a smile, so this is such a good fit."
Proceeds from Charlie's Smile will help support Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that has provided 220,000 free surgeries for children and young adults worldwide, she added.
In a news release announcing the sculpture, Wolfe said "We are so happy to be able to advocate for an organization that makes such a difference for those born with the same condition as Charlie. Helping give a healthy life and new smile to children who would otherwise not have it is just wonderful."
Charlie's Smile — a little girl in hot pink boots and a tutu sitting on her dog — is available at Isabel Bloom's showrooms and its website, www.ibloom.com. It sells for $68.
Mike and Jodi Wolfe discovered their daughter's cleft during a routine ultrasound before Charlie was born in January 2012. "We cried when we found out," he said. "We felt an emptiness. Then we started learning about it." After receiving "excellent surgical care," he said Charlie "is happy and healthy today."
But in their research, the Wolfes learned that a cleft lip and/or cleft palate is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States. Globally, children born with a cleft have twice the odds of dying before their first birthday. The Wolfes' experience led them to begin advocating for Operation Smile.
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is the largest volunteer-based medical charity providing free surgical care to children born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. More than 5,400 medical professionals from 80-plus countries provide 337,092 volunteer hours annually.
Young said the Wolfes "were able to pay for the best surgery and treatment, but so many can't." Before even meeting Wolfe, she said Isabel Bloom's employees were interested in Charlie's condition because her aunt, Jill Shively, (Jodi's sister), is the company's controller. "We had followed their story for the last couple of years," she said.