Located in Virginia Beach, VA, Operation Smile has provided life-saving reconstructive cleft surgeries worldwide for the past 35 years. The organization believes that children with cleft lip or cleft palate deserve the best possible surgical care and is constantly making efforts to raise money along with motivating people around the world for the cause.
Founded in 1982 by plastic surgeon Dr. William P. Magee, Jr, and his wife, Kathy, a nurse and clinical social worker, Operation Smile came to be from the pair’s trip to the Philippines to help children with cleft lips and palates. When they arrived in Naga City, approximately 300 families were begging the Magees to help. They were only able to treat 40 children, but William and Kathy promised they would come back to help more.
“Even if I think I know the answer, I don’t raise my hand,” said Marceline, a patient of Operation Smile. “I don’t want to be called on.” Kids like Marceline deal with numerous difficulties because of having cleft lip or palate including hunger and thirst, social stigma and a speech impediment. Thanks to Operation Smile, Marceline received surgery and is back in school, feeling more confident than she ever has with her classmates telling her she looks beautiful.
As of 2015, the organization has performed over 15,000 surgeries worldwide, went on 161 medical missions across 112 sites in 29 different countries, has over 3,000 medical volunteers and has 364,932 total documented volunteer hours. Operation Smile has also provided over 17,000 dental procedures to patients and transported 131,753 pounds of medical equipment to hospitals globally.
Operation Smile received over $95 million in revenue for the year 2015, mostly through contributions. Like other humanitarian organizations, Operation Smile benefits from the support of celebrity advocacy and endorsements who help raise money.
Known for her ability to light up a room and make everyone around her smile, Oscar-nominated actress Kate Hudson is a notable advocate for Operation Smile. The “Almost Famous” star was honored for her work with the organization last year at the 2016 Operation Smile Gala.
“Operation Smile was my first experience witnessing how we can effect change,” Hudson said at the event. “I was about 16 or 17 and my mother held an Operation Smile event in our backyard, and I’ll never forget meeting incredible doctors.” Hudson’s mother, fellow actress Goldie Hawn, shows that support for the organization runs in the family.
Through organizations like Operation Smile and the humanitarian efforts of celebrities like Kate Hudson, more and more children all around the world are finding their smile.
– Blake Chambers