I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, but I never knew why until after my first LEAP trip. Through that experience, I realized it is because I want to help people and to change lives, and medicine is a great avenue to do that. I have been given my gifts for a reason, and LEAP has shown me the importance of using my gifts to bless others.
For that reason and many others, LEAP has been a huge blessing to me. I am most inspired by parent reactions after the surgeries are over. The look on their faces overcomes any sort of language barrier and portrays their feelings of gratitude and awe. The fact that their child looks different and has been “fixed” means the world to them and in some cases means they will be accepted into the community that once labeled them as outcasts.
Blake observes Dr. Eric Payne performing a cleft palate repair. As part of our mission, LEAP encourages select aspiring medical professionals to travel with us on our surgical missions to learn more about the profession, get valuable experience, and see firsthand how they can use their talents for good.
I hope that I have been able to put my skills to good use and help, but I have seen my two mission experiences as LEAP helping me: LEAP has helped me visualize my future and pushed me to succeed in my endeavors. The path to becoming a surgeon isn’t easy. A lot of people quit along the way, but after my trips with LEAP, I have no problem finding the motivation to continue pushing myself in the classroom to overcome hurdles because I can see what is on the other side of the mountain.
LEAP has also provided me with amazing role models and people I can turn to for advice. Drs. Craig Hobar, Eric Payne, Jordi Espel, Grant Gilliland, and Jose Castro were all extremely helpful and very willing to let me observe and participate in the OR. The rest of the medical staff were very open to my presence and showed me the ropes behind a lot of the work being done. I’m grateful to the LEAP staff for letting me take part in this experience.
I have loved watching the work they do in the world and the difference they make in the lives of all of the people that they touch — mine included. I’ve chosen to invest my time with the organization because I truly believe LEAP is making a valuable impact in the world and makes a world of difference in the lives of those they touch.
Blake Bengtson is a business major at TCU and is part of the pre-med program. He hopes his business degree will one day help him effectively run both his practice and a nonprofit. As a surgeon, his father has been a major influence in his life and chosen career path. Our most recent trip to Zimbabwe was Blake’s second mission with LEAP.