Threads of Unity: A Craniofacial Picnic Annual Tradition

June 13, 2024

On Sunday, June 2, 2024,  the 7th Annual Craniofacial Family Picnic for patients of the Stanford Children's Cleft & Craniofacial Center and their families took place, sponsored by the lab of Dr. Derrick Wan and the Creating Smiles fund. 

A standout tradition of the yearly picnic has been a creatively designed t-shirt given out to lab and clinic volunteer staff who help make the event possible. Paulo Pereira, lead organizer of the Craniofacial Family Picnic, initially took up the task of designing the shirts himself. Recognizing the artistic talents within the lab, Dr. Wan suggested involving lab members in the creative process. Dr. Wan says about the decision, “We have several people with incredible artistic talent in the laboratory and involving them in the design process for the t-shirt as well as the picnic events gives them an opportunity to see how research that we are doing may relate to future treatment of actual patients with problems we are investigating.” 

In 2019, lab member Mimi Borrelli created a memorable design of a hippo character with a cleft lip, setting a precedent for future contributions from the lab. Lab member Charlotte Berry followed with two designs in 2023 and 2024. It has now become a tradition each year to involve lab members in designing a creative t-shirt that captures the spirit of the patients of the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic and all the volunteers that come together to make the picnic a success. Wan said he will likely continue having someone from the laboratory work with Pereira on a new design each year.

The event features a wide variety of activities for kids, including face painting, arts and crafts projects, games, sports, a magician, and a petting zoo.

“Each year the craniofacial clinical team members work collaboratively with the Hagey lab staff to create a fun day for patients and families from the Pediatric Craniofacial Center. This joint effort allows for children to meet and play with others with the same diagnosis/surgeries,” said Craniofacial Coordinator Elena Hopkins. “In addition, this day provides an opportunity for the research team to play with the kids and improve awareness and understanding on how their work may relate to future treatment of patients.”

There have been seven picnics to date, with the event paused in 2020, 2021, and 2022 due to the pandemic. The picnic resumed in 2023 after the three-year hiatus.

Dr. Wan shares, “Lab members have been incredibly enthusiastic about helping out with the event. They have been participating since the very first picnic. Having a new t-shirt design that we all wear for the picnic each year adds to team comradery. Many of the staff are proud to continue wearing it throughout the rest of the year and to the clinic to celebrate our cleft patients.”

This year’s event continues its tradition of community, creativity, and fun, perhaps best exemplified by its inspiring t-shirt designs.

About the Children's Craniofacial Center

The Cleft and Craniofacial Center at Stanford provides specialized care for children with cleft and craniofacial conditions. Led by Drs. Rohit Khosla, Derrick Wan, Karl Bruckman, Jonathan Bernstein, H. Peter Lorenz, HyeRan Choo, and CPNP Elena Hopkins, the clinic offers comprehensive treatment and support for cleft lip, cleft palate, craniofacial microsomia, microtia, birthmarks and malformations of the skull such as craniosynostosis

Cleft and Craniofacial Center Website