on Saturday, March 20, 2021
This morning, Stephanie St Romain woke up and sent a familiar "thank you" message to the surgeon she's contacted every March 20th since 2018. Four years ago today, Dr. Jeyhan Wood and her craniofacial team at UNC Medical Center gave her son, Cooper, his forever smile.
Cooper, 4, was born with a cleft lip. Before surgery, family friend and photographer Tami Casalegno took a series of "before" photos of baby Cooper. Every year since, she returns for a "Smileaversary" photoshoot. This is the second year that Cooper's taken pictures with tractors; this is the first year that he's taken them at Quality Equipment.
When Cooper was much younger, his first word was, "tractor." At three, he decided that he wants to be a farmer when he grows up. If you ask him about it today, he's much more interested in the machinery than what crops he'll grow.
"He's very hands-on," says Trent, Cooper's dad. "For a short time I had a zero-turn mower ... if he had been taller and heavier, I could have turned him loose and he would have cut the grass."
On Tuesday, after a very rainy afternoon in Smithfield, N.C., Cooper and his parents visited Quality Equipment and posed with tractors, tires, a combine and, Cooper's favorite, a skid steer. (Last year, he and his family -- including siblings Kayleigh, Mason, Allie Marie and Harrison -- had an impromptu celebration for the 50th anniversary of the John Deere skid steer.)
Traditionally, each Smileaversary continues with cake and gathering with the group of close friends who they now consider family.
"It's important for us (to celebrate) because we want him to know how he was born and we want him to know how special he is," Stephanie said, "not only to our family, but to the world. Everyone who meets him smiles, and he's changed our family for the better."
From all of us at Quality Equipment, Happy Smileaversary to Cooper and his family! May your day be filled with toys, and cake, and friends, and lots and lots of smiles!