Planet Princeton

Barbara Majeski’s Reasons to Smile

Majeski on an Operation Smile mission in the Dominican Republic.
Majeski on an Operation Smile mission in the Dominican Republic.

Princeton Mom Seeks to Raise $1 Million for Her Favorite Cause in One Day

Spend a few minutes with Barbara Majeski and it’s hard not to notice her big smile.

Her face lights up as she talks about her family, her involvement with Jewish Family and Children Services, and one of her favorite charities, Operation Smile.

This Saturday the Princeton mom of three has an ambitious goal. She will try to raise $1 million for the Day of Smiles, a nationwide fundraiser for Operation Smile.

Majeski learned about Operation Smile when she attended a party at a neighbor’s house and was challenged to go on a mission trip with the nonprofit. The non-profit organization provides surgical procedures to children and young adults in more than 60 countries who were born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.

In 2011, Majeski went to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission and was impressed with the Operation Smile set up. The doctors donate their time, pay their own way, eat local food and stay in modest accommodations when they are on the mission trips. She felt a connection to the children the group helped, as well as the children’s mothers.

“I came back from the trip inspired,” she says. “I also thought of all the other children who still needed surgeries and I wanted to find a way to help them.”

The experience compelled her to raise money for the charity that helps thousands of children each year.

“A child who receives a surgery to repair a facial deformity is given a better shot at life,” she says. “They can navigate the world with less inhibitions.”

The Majeski family on front of their home in Princeton.
The Majeski family on front of their home in Princeton.

Majeski knows how challenging life can be for children with special needs. The West Windsor-Plainsboro High graduate grew up with a brother, Steven, who has Fragile X, a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges and various physical characteristics. Majeski and her brother are very close, and she has been his champion since childhood.

She worked hard and founded her own company in her 20s, driven to make sure she would be able to provide for her brother later in life. After she got married and had her own kids, she sought out opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives through volunteer work and fundraising. THe granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Majeski chaired the Jewish Children and Family Sevices gala this year, an annual event honors Holocaust survivors and remembers victims.

In 2011, Majeski launched a national fundraising campaign for Operation Smile with her husband Jim’s company, Cydcor Inc. The company, which has offices across the United States, has raised more than half a million dollars to sponsor three medical missions.

Majeski with Eli Manning last month at the Operation Smile awards ceremony.
Majeski with Eli Manning last month at the Operation Smile awards ceremony.

Her goal for this Saturday, June 6, is to raise $500,000. At a ceremony last month where she was honored as Operation Smile’s Humanitarian of the Year, Majeski challenged Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky to match that amount to bring the day’s total to $1 million, and he accepted.

This Saturday, a pop-up station will be set up in Palmer Square in Princeton. Nationwide, representatives from Cydcor will be going door-to-door to raise funds. Donations will also be accepted online.

“It’s an honor to raise money and awareness for Operation Smile,” Majeski says. “The free surgeries they provide to families across the globe are life-changing and inspiring.”

If all goes as planned on Saturday, Majeski will have a million more reasons to smile.

To make a donation or for more information visit Majeski’s Operation Smile fundraising page.

 

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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