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Band Of Brothers

San Juan Rio Relief: Band of Brothers

In December of 2003, while on a fishing trip with her husband Mary Evitt was struck by the poverty around her. In the small village of Eabalos on the Rio San Juan, Nicaragua, she made a promise to a young doctor to do what she could to help the people of the area. This is how San Juan Rio Relief was born. It has been supplying the area with medicines, medical supplies and health care services ever since. It is a non-profit organization with a volunteer board. 100% of every donation made is used to help the people of the San Juan area.

The local connection started in 2006 when Dr. Chris Cannon volunteered to lead a dental mission to this remote rainforest. He found it such a rewarding experience that he soon convinced his brothers Dr. Dan Cannon, a physician and Dr. Matt Cannon, also a pediatric dentist like himself, along with their partner Dr. Brandon Wainwright an orthodontist, to join the mission. Since then they have been volunteering every year to not only sponsor their own mission but to serve on the board of San Juan Rio Relief (SJRR). Dozens of health care missions have been sponsored by SJRR and they run the gamut from optometrists to orthopedic surgeons. In conjunction, SJRR is still suppling medicines, medical supplies and equipment that has made a significant impact on the morbidity and mortality rates of the area, not to mention the improvement in the quality of life.

The Cannon Brothers annual mission takes place every spring and brings together a team consisting of doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, assistants, and interpreters. The 10 day mission involves a great deal of travel time due to its remote location. Once the team arrives in the distant jungle, they immediately get to work. A medical area and a dental area are set up to triage and treat, not only the local villagers, but also people who come from great distances, often walking 6-8 hours in order to receive treatment. There is no running water or electricity but the group manages with compressors and generators. Over 1200 patients are treated for a variety of issues. The medical volunteers will typically treat diseases and conditions found in the rainforest that they don’t see at home. They often see cases of parasites, snake bites, vitamin deficiencies and even Leprosy. The dental volunteers are confronted by rampant dental decay made especially troublesome by the abundant locally grown sugar cane.

One of the benefits of adopting a group of communities is that you can see the difference. The people of this region are heathier and the statistics show it. The San Juan Region now has the second lowest mortality rate in Nicaragua. Before SJRR sponsored efforts began, the San Juan had the second highest mortality rate. Many long term bonds have been formed between our area and the far away rainforest of the San Juan Rio Region.

Drs. Chris and Matt Cannon grew up in Pleasant Valley, Iowa and Dr. Brandon Wainwright hails from Port Byron, Illinois. All three have returned to the area to live and raise their families here. Dr. Matt and Dr. Brandon each have three children and Dr. Chris’ wife is expecting child number 7. They all strongly believe this is a great community to raise a family. These three partners have practices in LeClaire at Riverview Dental Specialists and in Bettendorf at Dentistry Unlimited. You can check out the mission adventures or make a donation on their website or on Facebook.

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