Gary Pacha has served as the Iowa MOST Team Leader for the past ten years exemplifying the “Rotary Serving Humanity” theme of the upcoming year. This year Gary will step back from the annual cleft missions to Huehuetenango. Though he won’t be on the flight out of Cedar Rapids with the rest of the team Thursday morning, we can count on Gary to continue to serve Iowa MOST by working for the people of Guatemala. Gary’s focus this year will be to add cataract surgeries to our annual 2017 mission.
Gary’s leadership will be missed on this trip by many. Not only will his absence be felt by the entire Iowa MOST team, but the many friends he’s made with the local Rotary club and firefighters are going to miss’s Gary’s can-do attitude, hearty handshake, and his welcoming smile.
From the earliest days when the Miles of Smiles project was just a glimmer of an idea in the minds of Bill Olin, Pete Petersen, John Canady, Gary, and others involved in the earliest visits; Gary has provided leadership for Iowa MOST helping this Rotary project improve with each passing year. Gary has provided the critical support necessary for our fearless Medical Leader, Dr. John Canady, and his exceptional medical team to repair cleft birth defects for hundreds of children over the past ten years whose lives have been changed forever with new opportunities to lead healthy, happy lives.
The MOST team has donated money to create a children’s library in Dr. Marroquin’s hospital in Huehuetenango in honor of Gary’s commitment to Iowa MOST. Watch for photos of the library of about 100 books and the special bookcase that Gary built in an upcoming blog! The entire team is really eager to have access to this new library so that we can read to our young patients while they’re in our care.
We’ll be thinking of you, Gary, as our flight departs from Iowa headed for the Western Highlands of Guatemala … and thanking you for everything that you’ve done for the Iowa Miles of Smiles project!