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University of Missouri

Facing Challenges

Ginger Robinson faces the challenges of running a nonprofit organization and beating cancer.

Ginger Holmes Robinson in Vietnam

Face the Challenge President Ginger Holmes Robinson, right, with nurses at the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Ginger Holmes Robinson.

Ginger Holmes Robinson’s children give her a hard time when she sings “Enjoy It,” a song from Disney’s In Search of the Castaways (1962) with Maurice Chevalier and Hayley Mills.

“Why cry about bad weather?” Chevalier sings. “Enjoy it!”

They think the song cheesy.

“But there are times in life when a hurricane is blowing through, yet laughing in the face of distress gets rid of the anxiety,” Robinson says.

Robinson, BSN ’81, has practice shrugging off difficult moments as president of Face the Challenge, a nonprofit organization she founded with husband Randy, BA ’80, a craniomaxillofacial and facial cosmetic surgeon. Since 1993, the organization has provided more than 1,100 free surgeries worldwide. In March 2013, the group made its 32nd trip to Vietnam.

“We’ve laughed about ‘Face the Challenge’ because of all the things we’ve had to face,” Robinson says.

For example, “Enjoy It” came in handy when the Robinsons discovered Face the Challenge doesn’t always translate in countries they visit — in Bolivia, it’s Challenge the Face.

It was harder to joke when Robinson was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. But she faced it head on.

At the suggestion of a friend who said cancer was more marathon than sprint, Robinson started walking, logging more than 1,000 miles — she called them “marathon metrics” — from April 2011 to October 2012. Today, there is no indication of recurrence of the cancer.

“As a mother concerned for another mother who has a child with a [facial] deformity, you connect,” Robinson says of her work with Face the Challenge. “But having cancer gave me greater insight into the patient side of medical care. I gained greater empathy.”