An 11-year-old Spring Lake, MI girl had plenty of hugs for Beau the Beaumont Bear and Santa Claus at an annual holiday party for about 50 patients of the Ian Jackson Craniofacial & Cleft Palate Clinic over the weekend.
Charlotte Ponce returned to Royal Oak with her parents and best friend, Aurora, Saturday to enjoy pizza, treats and crafts in the Salisbury Garden at Beaumont Hospital.
She attended the annual holiday party last year for the first time following her fifth nasal reconstruction surgery at Beaumont.
"Last year, she got released from the hospital and we came straight to the party," said Sharon Ponce, the girl's mother. "She's grown a lot. I think she has skipped a dress size since last year."
In 2012, the medical team at Beaumont's Ian Jackson Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Clinic, led by Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, performed a series of surgeries on Charlotte. A raccoon attack, when the girl was an infant, left her severely disfigured.
Charlotte wore a new black and red party dress and lipstick to the party this year — and announced she has a boyfriend.
"His name is Reese, like the candy, and he is funny, nice an lovable," Charlotte said.
Kongrit said he was pleased with the results of last year's surgeries.
"We'll work on her lip and ear this summer," he said. "And we'll do more work on her nose to catch up with her growth."
For Kongrit, the holiday party was an opportunity to mingle with his patients and their families outside of the typical doctor/patient relationship.
"We're just friends here," he said.
As always, Charlotte appreciates words of encouragement in cards, letters or postcards, which can be sent to Charlotte Ponce, PO Box 397, Fruitport MI 49415.