Peter James ‘Bringing the World Together’

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Peter James, of Market Harborough, plans to launch a local festival to raise money for Smile Train, following his ‘life-changing’ trip to Vientiane, Lao PDR.

After supporting Smile Train for several years, Peter James decided to visit Smile Train partner Children’s Hospital located in Vientiane, Lao PDR, so that he could witness the impact his donations were making in the lives of local children.

During his time at the hospital, Peter met with Smile Train Country Manager, Dzung T. Nguyen, and Senior Surgeon, Dr Chay Phachanh, who educated him on the process of sourcing and treating children with clefts in the region.

Peter 300 2“The trip was an unforgettable and life-changing experience — It completely opened my eyes to how vital cleft surgery is for children living in Lao PDR and similar parts of the world. I learnt that children with clefts are often hidden away from their community, so the first – and most difficult – task for Smile Train is to reach out and find them,” said Peter.

Peter continued, “Smile Train is such a great charity because the surgery they help fund for children is totally life-changing. The opportunity to have a procedure to treat their cleft is a gift and can have a huge positive impact on the whole family — it’s like a rebirth for the family.”

Following his trip, Peter has decided to launch an internationally-themed festival called “East West Fest- Bringing the World Together” in Market Harborough and Bournemouth to raise additional funds for Smile Train. The festival will invite local residents to join together and experience arts, crafts, foods and textiles from all over the globe.

We were so pleased to hear that Peter was inspired by his trip to our partner hospital in Vientiane. It’s always fantastic to hear that our fundraisers are inspired by our work and have seen first-hand the impact donations have for children in developing countries. We are delighted to have Peter as a Smile Train supporter, and are very much looking forward to his ‘Bringing the World Together’ festival.
Hannah Weston, Community and Events Manager, Fundraising, Smile Train UK

Eric Harr Power Of A Smile

Eric Harr HeaderThis is my beloved family. We’re all smiles, because we STAND with Smile Train!

What first inspired you to support Smile Train?
Our family has been aware of Smile Train’s heroic work for years. We’d see the ads in magazines, and show them to our children, Vivienne and Turner. We’d say “this is what compassion into action looks like. We are blessed, and it’s our responsibility to help others.” Then we’d write a check together and send it in.

Fast forward to the 2015 Clinton Global annual meeting, and there I am about to sit down to brunch for a plenary session. Who’s sitting to my left, but your extraordinary and wonderful CEO, Susie Schaefer. Total sweetheart. We hit it off immediately, because we were both…smiling! I’m serious! We put our compassion into action, right there, in this STAND.

What does the Power of a Smile mean to you?
Phyllis Diller said: “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” It really does—for the “smiler”—and the “smilee.” I don’t know of anything that easier to do and costs nothing—yet is priceless.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the Power of a Smile differently?
I look at the power of a smile differently in this way: one simple procedure can alter the trajectory of an entire life. I suppose you can measure that in better health, more education, etc. But you cannot measure the ripple effects of that new smile: the impact that person’s smile has on everyone around them, compounded over their entire lives. It’s beautiful when you think about it.

What keeps you wanting to stay involved with Smile Train?
1. The work. The direct line to impact. $250 for a new smile. It’s clear and compelling.

2. The people. The people behind Smile Train are passionate, smart, kindhearted—and fun! And that matters. It makes helping fun. That’s a good thing for everyone.

What has the Power of a Smile done for you in your life?
I’m a big smiler. I go around smiling and hugging people. It can be a little much for some folks, but I believe in the Law of Attraction (which isn’t some Pollyanna notion. It’s a scientific fact.) You get what you put out in the world. If you’re happy and smiling, your life will reflect that. Happiness is a choice—and they’re no easier way to be happy than to smile.

Stuart Hall School for Boys holds 9th annual Smile Train fundraiser

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New Orleans, LA- Karen Vincent, Middle School teacher at Stuart Hall School for Boys writes about her students’ fundraising efforts for Smile Train. They have raised enough funds to provide more than 100 free cleft surgeries.

For nine years now, the sixth grade men of Stuart Hall School for Boys have sponsored a lemonade sale during the month of October to benefit Smile Train. At our school, we work each month on a quality that we would like to improve in ourselves and each is sponsored by a grade level. Ours is Compassion – we do our best to raise as much money as possible through both our lemonade sale and private donations to fund new smiles for children we will never meet, but whose lives will be forever changed by our actions.

I am continually surprised at how generous these men are. We only charge 25¢ for a cup of iced cold lemonade (it’s HOT here until at least Thanksgiving), but almost every child will put in a dollar and say, “Just keep the change for those kids.” Many will bring in their allowance or the contents of their savings bank. It’s truly impressive.

During our Monday chapels in October, we inform the student body about Smile Train and their efforts, so they are well acquainted with what a cleft is and how it affects someone’s life. In the spring of this year, Caitlin Roarke, Manager, Community Relations from Smile Train came to visit us. When she asked the students if any of them knew what a cleft was, every hand in the chapel went up! Later she told me that it kind of threw off her speech that she had prepared – the men of Stuart Hall KNOW about Smile Train!

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University of Cincinnati’s Greek Community Raises 58 Smiles at Ginger Greek 2015

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University of Cincinnati’s Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity recently held their 5th Annual Ginger Greek Competition to raise funds for Smile Train. Ginger Greek is a holiday-themed philanthropy that invites student organizations to compete in a holiday movie trivia night, a Santa run, and ginger bread house competition over a three day period.

More organizations are attending Ginger Greek every year and the event is quickly becoming a campus institution. This wildly successful event started with humble beginnings, as an idea from former Sigma Phi Epsilon president, and former cleft patient, Mark Kroger. Mark wanted to raise funds for children living with unrepaired clefts and realized that the holidays were the perfect time to bring people together in the spirit of giving.

The fraternity has continued the tradition with the help of Mark’s younger brothers, who also became members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. “Over the past five years our fraternity has helped children, who we’ll never meet, have the opportunity to live a more normal life,” said Mark.

Ginger Greek 2015, raised enough for 58 new smiles. Smile Train would like to thank the Kroger family, University of Cincinnati students, and the brothers at Sigma Phi Epsilon, for changing the world one smile at a time.

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100 Miles for 100 Smiles

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Ultramarathon runner David Coligado recently completed a 24-hour, 100 mile treadmill run in an effort to raise enough funds for 100 Smile Train cleft surgeries. David’s girlfriend Mary recounts his motivations and experience in completing this incredible feat.


I cannot convey in words how inspiring and memorable this weekend has been. Thank you from the deepest depths of my heart for all of your efforts to support Dave since the conception of this crazy idea. You are tops in my book.

I wanted to share but a few highlights from the weekend that will stay with me always:

Chicago police officers driving by the Lululemon store raising their hands in support of Dave.

Midnight: lights off. A glow in the dark sticks/dance workout that illuminated the room. Dave on the treadmill. DJ spinning tunes.

3 AM: twerk-off/dance off 🙂

4 AM: a group of about 80 people singing Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” and George Michael’s “Freedom” in unison with Dave while he ran.

A maxillofacial surgeon and a craniofacial surgeon, both in town for a conference, saw the story on the news. They walked in to Lululemon, each donating $500 in cash in support of Smile Train.

People holding up the pictures Smile Train provided of the kids and adults in the window every hour and during Dave’s few moments of struggle. They were also posted all around him throughout the run and brought more than a few people to tears.

The security guard, a total machismo, south side old school Chicago kinda guy, singing along with us and crying when Dave hit his 100 miles.

Between the hours of 1 AM-4 AM: drunk people on the street walking by confused and slack jawed upon hearing the DJ blasting music, Dave running on the treadmill, and all of us dancing, working out, and singing, with the store doors wide open welcoming all to join us. Several of them digging in their pockets to contribute whatever crumpled up dollar bills they had left.

8:30 AM: as we were cleaning and the treadmills were being hauled away, a man, who saw the story on the news, walked in and handed Dave $250 in cash for Smile Train. He offered his congratulations, and walked out.

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…Certainly one of the most memorable 24 hours of our lives. Thank you to ALL of the folks at Smile Train for their efforts to make this idea a reality.

It’s easy to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of the fundraising event, but the children who will ultimately benefit from the money raised have been at the forefront of our minds throughout.

Still delirious from this weekend’s event, Dave and I hobbled to the kitchen this morning, seeking coffee. We stopped to take a detailed look at the piles of photos that lay on our counter. Moving images of children and adults from clinics around the world holding up signs of thanks and support for Dave. We talked about what a collaboration it must have been to collect such an inspirational tribute. We were balling. Consider us lifelong Smile Train supporters and advocates.

With love and gratitude,
Mary Oleszek


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Smile Train Team EMPOWER gives athletes around the world the opportunity to make every step, every lap and every mile count toward giving a child not only a new smile, but a second chance at life.

10th Annual Hot Lips Hustle 5K

First runner to finish hot lips hustle 5K.

Marietta, GA—Hundreds of runners and walkers raised over $6,000 for Smile Train at the 10th Annual Hot Lips Hustle 5K on Saturday, September 20. The Hustle was founded in 2004 by Ryan Ernstes, a 12-year-old girl who was born with a cleft. Now 22, Ryan is still committed to helping other children who were born with the same birth defect.

Besides raising enough money to fund 24 new smiles, the event was a fun family affair, with even dogs participating. Many people came dressed in silly costumes and wigs and there was a live DJ, lip tattoos, an ice cream bar, and great food. There were trophies for the top finishers (even for the top dog racers), and all entrants were entered into free prize drawings, but Ryan believes that the greatest prize of all was being able to give a child a new smile and a new start at life. Over the past 10 years the Hot Lips Hustle 5K has contributed to 366 surgeries for children all over the world, changing their lives forever.

Runners during the race.

Runners during the race.

Argos High School Students Bake for Smile Train

The Argos High School MoCD class pose for a photo. Back row:  Angela Walker (Aide), Ty Thompson, Angela Resendez (Aide), Logan Lynd, Ian Swafford and Avram Beers. Front Row:  Jackey Ritenour (Aide), Brittay Morris, Jakob Cybulski, Marissa Perkins and Mary Wojdyla (Head Teacher).

The Argos High School MoCD class pose for a photo. Back row: Angela Walker (Aide), Ty Thompson, Angela Resendez (Aide), Logan Lynd, Ian Swafford and Avram Beers.
Front Row: Jackey Ritenour (Aide), Brittay Morris, Jakob Cybulski, Marissa Perkins and Mary Wojdyla (Head Teacher).

Argos, IndianaAngela Resendez, a special education aide at Argos High School, writes about her students’ fundraising efforts for Smile Train.

Argos High School student, Jakob Cybulski, makes the muffins to support Smile Train.

Argos High School student, Jakob Cybulski, makes the muffins to support Smile Train.


Argos High School is located in Northern Indiana and is the epitome of a small town. Our special education class makes muffins every Wednesday in order to allow our class to go on field trips. For six weeks out of the year we sell our muffins to our elementary, junior high, and high school students, faculty, staff, and surrounding residents. All the proceeds raised during this time go to Smile Train!
This is our second year of fundraising and we raised enough money for two operations, with our class matching the amount of one operation, for a total of three operations! The Argos Dragon MoCD class will have sponsored six operations for Smile Train so far, with hopes of sponsoring more in the future! We are so proud of our students and their continued support of this truly worthy cause.