In 1998, Dr. Dennis M. Nigro began performing free cosmetic surgery for those with special needs on Saturdays. From this evolved Fresh Start, a private clinic that has now been running for seven years.
Dr. Nigro and his staff do reconstructive surgery on children and young adults with deformities from middle income families whose insurance will not cover cosmetic surgery. These recipients are from all over the world, including Mexico, Romania and Russia. There is no discrimination and no one is turned away. Every child with a physical deformity is given the opportunity to have a positive self-image.
More than 1,000 people have volunteered since Fresh Start's inauguration, including doctors, nurses, clerical staff, families, drivers, translators, dentists, housewives and lawyers. There is one surgical weekend every six months.
John Carney, a San Diego Charger's football player, makes a contribution to Fresh Start, the "Kick Start" donation. For each touchdown he scores, Fresh Start receives money. Other funders are primarily medical groups and services, resulting in a total of $119,300 for the 1998 fiscal year. More than 700 surgeries have been performed with tangible results.