Seeing Heroes in a Different Light

The human face may be the single physical characteristic by which humans are most identified. The organs that comprise a face – eyes, nose, mouth, ears – offer not only a glimpse into who we are, but also help us to make sensory connections with the world around us. Imagine the isolation felt by individuals whose faces are different. In Heroes with a Thousand Faces, Notre Dame graduate Laura Malee Greenwald ‘97 explores the stories of individuals with life-altering facial differences.

Facial differences are defined as anatomical abnormalities of the face, which may be caused by birth defects, genetic conditions, diseases or traumatic incidents.

In her book, Greenwald chronicles multiple stories of facial differences, from a mother and father burned by a fire, to a college student injured in a skiing accident. Many of the book’s chapters are devoted to a person’s specific experience, exploring the emotional and physical effects of his or her medical situation. Greenwald often describes the medical diagnosis and procedures associated with each case.

Through the duality of heartbreaking stories and amazing abilities to overcome, Greenwald urges compassionate treatment and understanding for this special group of people who are often shunned by society while struggling with the personal issues of their medical conditions. The vignettes reinforce two basic childhood lessons: treat others as you would like to be treated and don’t judge a book by its cover.

“If I could communicate one idea to all readers of my book, it would be to tell mothers and fathers not to quiet their children when encountering someone with facial differences. Talk about facial differences openly and encourage compassion in your children.”

Heroes with a Thousand Faces is available now through and It is expected to be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble by early spring.

Greenwald is a graduate of Notre Dame’s Weekend College program with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She credits her Notre Dame education with giving her the confidence necessary to undertake such a large project as a book. “To my mind, the education I received at Notre Dame is priceless.”

Greenwald is currently a manager of Consumer and Physician Relations at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Her daughter, Jillian, is a freshman at Notre Dame.

Mary Elizabeth Sokol Cotleur ‘98 is the director of alumni relations and associate director of advancement at Notre Dame College.

E.g., 06/22/19
E.g., 06/22/19