Heading to Central America for a week in June may seem like a nice vacation for some – but for Dr. Juan Carlos Millon, relaxing was the last thing on his mind.

Dr. Millon, a TopLine MD pediatrician, just came back from Mindo, Ecuador to work with Mindo Futures – a nonprofit mission trip that empowers the community through education and health programs.

Dr. Millon first heard about the program through a close friend of his, Cathy Salazar, who has been on this mission trip for 8 years. Though he has a large interest and background in international medicine and philanthropy, Dr. Millon has had his own practice to run in South Florida and didn’t have the time to dedicate to this cause.

“Cathy kept bugging me to come to this mission trip, but I never had the time and honestly never decided to make the time,” Dr. Millon explains.

Four years ago, he finally made the time.  Now after his fourth year – and the mission’s 10th year – he’s already planning on attending future trips.

Which is not uncommon for a mission of this caliber. A lot of planning, meetings and fundraising goes into making this mission trip possible.

Throughout the year, Mindo Futures raises money at their annual golf tournament, a wine and tapas event, and a kickball tournament. All of which goes back directly to the kids and families, as the volunteers pay their own way, and for food and board. The mission also has to coordinate with its volunteers beforehand to bring equipment, vitamins and medicines to use during the trip.

Although Dr. Millon, a pediatrician by practice, focused on seeing children while he was in Mindo, he was not exempt from helping out whenever needed.

“We all pitch in to do everything – if we need to move tables, everyone is helping,” Dr. Millon said.

And it’s no wonder they need the help. Mindo Futures and their 150 volunteers see up to 6,000 patients during their time in Ecuador.

“We have families that keep coming back every year,” Dr. Millon explains. “They drive hours just to see us that day.”

One year, Dr. Millon treated a young girl with a congenital heart problem who could barely walk from one side of the school to the other and was showing signs of heart failure. Her family unfortunately did not have money and could not afford surgery, but Mindo Futures and their volunteer doctors arranged for the young girl’s surgery in America for free. Now, she is a stellar student who is receiving a scholarship from Mindo Futures to attend college – a first for her family.

Mindo Futures made it happen. They do more than fix ailments. They build futures for families who may not have had one.

“We hand out vitamins and hugs – and we hug them with the most love ever,” Dr. Millon describes. “The sacrifice is a week that you can’t be with your family, or making money but you do it for them. To show them that no one has forgotten about them and that people love them.”

Mindo Futures is currently planning a second mission trip this year in November and is looking for doctors, health professionals and volunteers to join the mission. To learn more about Mindo Futures visit their site here.