Cover Stories

Healing Kids: World Pediatric Project

This year has been an exciting time for World Pediatric Project. The nonprofit, which helps heal children and advance pediatric health care throughout the world, celebrated its 20th anniversary. In two decades, it has treated more than 15,000 children, provided more than 45,000 medical services, performed more than 9,000 surgeries, brought more than 750 children to the United States for critical treatments and sent more than 500 surgical and diagnostic teams to 12 countries. “It’s been incredible to witness and be a part of so many children’s healing,” executive director Kate Corbett says. “We look forward to continuing our current work and expanding our global network of pediatric care.”

Not only did World Pediatric Project turn 20 this year, the nonprofit also welcomed a new CEO, Vafa Akhavan. “He is an executive leader who has worked across seven industries and in 16 countries,” Corbett notes. “His experience coupled with his passion for our mission and personal commitment to children makes him an excellent fit to lead the organization.” The nonprofit is growing, and with its new leadership, it plans to expand its reach and inform more people about its important mission.

Last year, the pandemic disrupted World Pediatric Project’s usual programs, but the organization never stopped healing children. While it could not deploy medical teams to Central American and Caribbean countries, it found new ways to provide care through virtual consultations and assessments and new partnerships with health care professionals in the countries it serves. Children who required critical treatment continued to be brought to hospitals in the U.S. for lifesaving care. This year, the nonprofit is once again deploying teams, and there’s an even greater demand for its services. “We have more than 1,000 children in our database awaiting care in 2022, and that number grows every week with new referrals,” Corbett says.

World Pediatric Project’s success wouldn’t be possible without the support of the St. Louis community, according to Corbett. “Our circle of supporters are unbelievably generous and steadfast,” she says. “They know the challenges these already resource starved countries face and understand that these children need us now more than ever. In the past year, that support never wavered, which shows just how spectacular and philanthropic St. Louis is.” Along with fiscal donations, the nonprofit relies on the local medical community sharing their time and expertise to provide care both in St. Louis and its partner countries.

A large portion of World Pediatric Project’s programs are funded through its annual Treasures in Paradise gala. For 2022, the event will be held April 22 at Old Warson Country Club, and guests can look forward to an entertaining evening and the chance to bid on exciting auction items, including vacation packages. “This one night is so important to so many families, and by attending, you directly support the lives of people who depend on our services,” Corbett says. “Plus, it’s one of the best cocktail parties you’ll ever attend. It’s a beautiful thing that people can have fun and celebrate together while helping kids around the world.”

World Pediatric Project helps heal children and advance pediatric health care throughout the world. Its annual Treasures in Paradise gala is April 22 at Old Warson Country Club. Pictured on the cover: SLUCare Physician Group cardiologist Dr. Chetana Reddy and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Charles Huddleston with Kady from St. Lucia. For more information, call 314.317.8809 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Pictured at top: Rusty Keeley, Todd Purdy, Jennifer McKean, Vafa Akhavan
Photo: Bill Barrett


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