9th Annual Mini Marathon for Smile Train at Pleasant Hill Elementary

Celebration Post Race_PHE

On April 24, 2015 Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Columbia South Carolina held its 9th Mini-Marathon for Smile Train. Physical Education teacher and real-world Smile Train super hero Thomas Cronin, who was born with a cleft lip and palate, hosts the event every year. He says that he feels so fortunate that he was able to receive surgery when he was a child, and his hope is that every child born with a cleft is able to have the same opportunities for a healthy and productive life that he was given.

Cronin Father and  Sons_PHE

Miles for Smiles_2_PHE

Presenting Check_PHE

On the day of the event each grade level (Kindergarten through Fifth grade) runs and walks for 30 minutes on the school’s outdoor track. This year, the event raised a total of $13,090 for Smile Train. This is enough to provide surgery for 52 children with cleft lips and palates.

Smile Train’s Mini Marathon has become a tradition at Pleasant Hill Elementary School. This year, Smile Train’s own Director, Program Development, Shannon Lambert, got to attend the event, walk around the track with some students, and answer student questions. She said some of the most common questions were “How many surgeries did Smile Train help provide last year?” and “How long does it take to complete a surgery?” One student, a young boy, shared a story with Shannon about his cousin that lives in Guadalajara, Mexico who was born with a cleft. His cousin didn’t have transportation to get to a treatment facility, so the little boy’s family in South Carolina drove to Mexico to bring the boy to the hospital for surgery.

Overall, Pleasant Hill Elementary School’s Smile Train Mini Marathon gives the students a chance to learn more about a meaningful cause, and how something as simple as a smile can change a life, all while getting fit at the same time.

When I Grow Up…

Kampala, Ugandatoday’s blog comes from Smile Train Marketing Associate Adina Wexelberg-Clouser, who is currently in Uganda as part of her Master’s degree and has been working with our partners in the field and visiting former patients.

Smile Train patient Olivia two years after her free cleft lip surgery

“I want to be a doctor!”

Before she received Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery at 10 years old, this is a dream that would never have been feasible for Olivia Nabusiita.

Born in a remote village hours outside of Kampala, Olivia’s mother had taken her newborn to a local healer to see if he could fix her daughter’s disfigured mouth. The healer, who had no surgical experience, had cut open her lips and attempted to stitch them back together. Soon after, the stitches burst open and Olivia spent her childhood being mocked and bullied by other children in her village.

Smile Train patient Olivia before free cleft lip surgery

When Olivia was six years old, her mother was no longer able to care for her and Olivia was sent to another village to live with her mother’s friend and her family. Because of the way she was treated by others in her village, she refused to attend school and seemed destined to spend her life as a social outcast. Years later, a neighbor heard a radio announcement about Smile Train’s free cleft surgery program at nearby Kibuli Muslim Hospital and told Regina that Olivia could be helped.

Although she was scared, Regina immediately took Olivia for treatment. Since her surgery two years ago, Olivia has returned to school and is determined to study hard in order to achieve her dream of giving others the same help that she has received. When asked what has changed in her life after receiving the surgery, a shy smile spreads across her face. “Now, I feel beautiful”, she responds.

Thank You to All of Our Amazing Supporters

New York, NY — This Holiday Season, as we close the chapter on 2011 and finalize our plans to help even more children with clefts in 2012, we have a lot to be thankful for, most importantly our wonderful supporters that keep Smile Train running. We wanted to take the time to say thank you to everyone who has helped us provide more than 700,000 free cleft surgeries with over 300 more provided every day and increase our follow up care for desperate children and even adults that could never dream of affording it on their own.

“Every child is a gift. Every child should be taken care of.”

In a time of economic uncertainty and political turmoil throughout the world, it is incredible to see so many people from so many countries and diverse backgrounds band together to give children born with clefts new smiles and new lives. School children, retirees, democrats, republicans, famous actors and actresses, waiters and waitresses, leading businesses and those on social security, those who were born with a cleft themselves, those who never knew what a cleft was until they saw an ad in a magazine, and so many more people all helping in whichever way they can to provide free cleft surgery and follow up care to children who can’t afford it. Dismissing dangerous superstitions, turning despair into hope, and providing hundreds of thousands of miracles every year.

Smile Train supporter General Colin Powell speaks at a Smile Train event

Recently, one of our corporate partners sponsored a Smile Train donor dinner in Washington, D.C. to update some of our donors on all of the great work we have done this year and our plans for 2012. We were lucky to have long time supporter former Secretary of State General Colin Powell in attendance. He asked if he could say a few words and we were more than happy to oblige. His words cut to the heart of Smile Train’s mission and why so many people work so hard to help children with clefts as donors, fundraising event volunteers, staff, and partner surgeons, medical staff and social worker volunteers.

“There’s nothing quite like Smile Train…nothing matches the reality of a child who believes he or she has no future, and suddenly Smile Train comes to town. It is the smile and the faces of these children that is the reality of the Smile Train effort and the success of Smile Train. Every child is a gift. Every child should be taken care of. Every child in the world we should want to take care of just as we take care of our own children.

“There is nothing more reflective of the best of humankind than what Smile Train has done and what it represents and what it will represent in the future. My thanks to all of the members of the Smile Train family around the world who are helping so many to a brighter and better future.”
— General Colin Powell

From all of us here at Smile Train, our partners, our patients and their families, Happy Holidays and thank you for helping us change the world — one smile at a time.

Never Not Funny Pardcast-a-Thon 2011 for Smile Train hopes to raise over $27,000!!

Los Angeles, California — On Friday, Nov. 25 at 6p.m. PST, the 3rd Annual Never Not Funny Pardcast-a-Thon kicks off for 12 hours of comedy and helping kids a world away. Hosted by Jimmy Pardo, Matt Belknap and Pat Francis, the award winning podcast is gearing up for their biggest event yet at ACME Theatre in Los Angeles.

Pardcast-a-Thon 2011 banner

An annual comedy tour-de-force, this year’s Pardcast-a-Thon featurs a round-robin of over twenty all-star comedy guests including Andy Richter, Sarah Silverman, Greg Behrendt, Walter Koenig from “Star Trek” and other surprise guests. Host Jimmy Pardo was recently on Conan to promote the event as well.

We caught up with Jimmy to catch up on all things Pardcast before the big show.

Never Not Funny's Jimmy Pardo proudly supports Smile Train

How did the Pardcast-a-thon come about?
Honestly, we just decided one day that we wanted to do a crazy long version of our show to raise money for Smile Train. We had done a contest earlier where listeners could bid to be a guest on the show and that money also went to Smile Train. We basically said “Let’s do a juiced up version of both those things,” and the Pardcast-a-Thon was born.

What made you choose “Black Friday” for the event?
It made the most sense. People are in the giving spirit around the holidays and that 4 day weekend also allows for people to fly in for the event.

Why did you and your team choose Smile Train?
It was a perfect storm of events…on a Sunday, I saw an ad for Smile Train and donated that day. The next day, Pardcast-a-Thon co-host Pat Francis came up with the idea to do the aforementioned listener contest with money going to ST… the timing seemed too perfect, so I have made it my charity of choice.

What is the most memorable event that has happened during the last 2 Pardcast-a-thons?
People always seem to bring up Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” coming in for his segment and then not leaving. He just kept coming back in and each time was funnier than the next. Of course, getting the hourly updates of the donations coming in is actually the biggest highlight.

The Pardcast-a-thon started as a six hour event and then doubled to 12. What was the biggest challenge in making that switch?
It was actually a 9 hour event that jumped to 12 hours. The biggest challenge was/is finding more comics, actors or musicians who are in town on a holiday weekend.

The lines between standup and podcasts are blurring and there are many comedians vying for the title of longest standup performance and even longest podcast. Do you and your team at Never Not Funny have any goals for those titles?
We actually don’t. Our goal is to raise money for Smile Train and have fun along the way. As much as I love the sound of my own voice, even I think 12 hours is enough!

For those that aren’t in attendance, will there be a video broadcast to see all of the action or is it audio?
Of course, we stream live at www.pardcast.com. We received donations from all over the world last year. It’s great to be able to reach that many people at once and for such a great cause.

Without giving away your surprise guest list, is there anything listeners should expect this year?
Lots of talk about how tired we are at 4am.

What are your goals for this year’s Pardcast-a-thon?
We raised over $26,000 during last years event. According to telethon bylaws, we have to try and raise more than that. We are shooting for a realistic $27,000.

If you could meet any of the patients that you have helped, what would you say to them? How about children that are still waiting for surgery?
My guess is I would be so overcome with joy that I wouldn’t know what to say to a child that had it done. I think I would stress that no matter how they will appear with their new look, they were always beautiful and to never forget that!

A special thanks to Jimmy Pardo, Matt Belknap, Pat Francis, the Never Not Funny team, all of the celebrity guests, fans, and listeners of this year’s upcoming Pardcast-a-Thon!

Watch Smile Train on the Daytime Emmys

Erik Estrada chats with Carlito, who will undergo his 2nd cleft surgeryCelebrities Dean Cain, Erik Estrada and Tatyana Ali recently joined Smile Train on a trip to Mexico where many children’s lives were forever changed by the care that Smile Train provided them with. Their trip is going to be featured on the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, airing LIVE! Sunday, June 19th at 8pm EST on CBS, during a segment called Daytime’s Best Smiles.


Dean Cain and Dr. Rafa Ruiz RodriguezThe trip was an amazing success with three compelling stories emerging and dozens of children receiving free cleft surgery. Be sure to watch the Daytime Emmy Awards next Sunday; you can even find some fun ideas for a viewing party and a ballot for holding an Emmy pool on smiletrain.org.


Tatyana Ali said:

Tatyana Ali watches a cleft surgery in the OR

“I had never before considered how having a cleft palate affects every single aspect of a person’s life. In Mazatlan, I was truly humbled and experienced first hand the many ways that Smile Train is improving lives around the world. I saw people of all ages undergoing life-changing surgery. I saw local doctors being trained. It was incredible to know that this blessing would not be a one time occurrence, but a persisting force of undeniable good.”

Remembering Dr. Francisco Teixeira

It is with heavy hearts that we would like to inform the Smile Train community of the passing of our partner surgeon Dr. Francisco Teixeira on May 29.

Dr. Teixeria and Smile Train Cleft Lip PatientsA kind and loving Smile Train partner for years, Dr. Teixeira dedicated his life to helping children in Fortaleza, Brazil. Through his partnership with Smile Train, Dr. Teixeira helped hundreds of children smile in Northern Brazil by giving them free cleft lip and palate surgeries. Not content to rest on his past successes, he  often put his life on the line to travel far distances into the Amazonas to treat children in desperate need who would otherwise never be able to dream of a life without cleft. His passion and commitment to children that have been outcast from society remains an inspiration to us all.

Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Francisco Teixeria’s family and loved ones and we know that his amazing legacy and smile will live on in the faces of all of the children and families he has helped.