This article was printed in the New York Times on November 28, 1975, page 41
The original article is linked here.
ROSLYN, L. I., Nov. 27
Two groups of Rotarians bridged 7,500 miles to bring a happy Thanksgiving Day to 5‐year‐old Grace Agwaru of Uganda. Grace recently underwent successful open heart surgery here. A congenital heart defect was corrected through the efforts of St. Francis Hospital and the Rotary Clubs of Kampala, Uganda, and Manhasset, L. I. She sat up in bed today, ignoring the Thanksgiving Day parade on her hospital room’s television set, and put on red print slippers so she could jump down and brush her teeth.
“It wasn’t a simple decision,” said her father, Silvester Agwaru, who, at the invitation of the Rotary Clubs, accompanied his daughter. “I’m very grateful it was made.”
The clubs paid for the Agwarus’ travel expenses. The hospital assumed the medical costs, estimated $12,000. Grace, who arrived here Oct. 28, was operated on Nov. 13. If medical complications arise, she will return home with her father in about 10 days. Although there is no such holiday in Uganda, she and her father joined in the Thanksgiving celebration the Sisters of St. Francis Convent, who prepared a turkey dinner.
“I am thankful God answered our prayers,” Mr. Agwaru said. “The life of my child was saved. It is difficult to express. But just imagine if this was your child.”
“It’s a good time to thank God everything went all right,” said Robert Donno, president of Manhasset’s Rotary Club. “It made everyone feel pretty good.”
Rob Raylman is the Chief Executive officer for Gift of Life International. He assumed this role in 2008.
Rob is a life-long resident of New York State. He graduated Hobart College in 1984 with a BS in Political Science. Over the years, he worked for US Senator Alfonse D’Amato and held the position of Vice President for Browning-Ferris Industries (at the time, the second largest international solid waste company in the world). In 2008, Rob created the position of CEO for Gift of Life International. Since then, he was visited 38 countries on 5 continents to build the Gift of Life Global Network of 84 affiliates. During Rob’s tenure with Gift of Life International, 30 affiliates have been created while over 35,000 children have received care for their heart defects.
Rob focuses on strategically building bridges between Gift of Life programs, foreign Governments, Rotary Clubs and Districts, like-minded organizations and hospital administrations in order to address the Global Crisis of congenital heart defects.