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There is great power in something as simple as a smile. Research shows that smiling is contagious, smiling has the power to set off a chain reaction of happiness. Science has confirmed the magical properties of a smile – smiling triggers activity in your brain, in the left prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that registers happiness.
Sadly, many children are afraid to smile in public, they’re bullied, shamed by friends and even family. Their are thousands of children around the world, one born every three minutes, with a cleft lip or cleft palate. Many of these children don’t have access to the appropriate physician or simply can’t afford corrective surgery. Thankfully, there’s Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that provides free surgeries to children around the world who suffer from cleft lip or cleft palate.
I had the pleasure of attending Operation Smile’s 13th Annual Smile Gala on behalf of Johnson & Johnson to celebrate the more than 220,000 free surgical procedures that Operation Smile has provided for children worldwide born with facial deformities — and to raise funds and awareness for the thousands more who desperately need surgery. The event hosted by Kate Walsh and special guest Eli Manning, celebrated Operation Smile’s work in Latin America and honored Johnson & Johnson with the corporate Humanitarian Award, presented to our Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky.
Over the past 27 years, Johnson & Johnson companies – starting with Ethicon – have helped Operation Smile provide more than 100,000 smiles to children around the world through product, financial and employee support. Operation Smile is the largest volunteer-based medical charity of its kind in the world.
At the Smile Event, Alex Gorsky announced that Johnson & Johnson will give $25 million in financial and product contributions over the next five years. Johnson & Johnson is also mobilizing 128,000 employees in 60 countries across all Johnson & Johnson businesses with the aspiration of donating 6,000 “smiles” to Operation Smile this year alone!
I was overwhelmed by the inspiring stories of children, families, doctors and organizations that Operation Smile helps and works with. In the time that we attended the Gala, we witnessed an Operation Smile surgery taking place in Latin America. We watched in awe as a mother was handed back her baby, cleft lip healed in just 45 minutes time. Not a dry eye in the room, it was miraculous, a priceless gift for the family. See for yourself in the highlight video below…
Summer is here and summer usually means FUN and lots of smiles and memories made. Yet, for many children born with cleft lips and cleft palates, playing ball or laughing and playing with friends is rare. Restoring these simple childhood pleasures and giving hope for a brighter future is why Operation Smile provides free surgeries around the world. In 45 minutes and for just $240 a child’s life is changed for the better.
What if, together, your family committed to bring a smile to a child this summer? A great way to “pay it forward” and create a summer your family won’t forget, the summer your family gave a child a smile. Get creative with your kids and host a neighborhood lemonade stand, sell baked goods, wash cars, walk or bath dogs.
A couple more ways you can help heal a smile…
1.) With the free Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo app, you can trigger a $1 donation to Operation Smile every time you share a photo through the app.* Get it in the app store for your iOS or Android device, or visitwww.donateaphoto.com for more information.
2.) You can also help raise funds for Operation Smile just by running, biking or walking. Check out Charity Miles in the app store or visit www.charitymiles.org to learn more.
Our family will be working to make this summer the summer of smiles, I hope you will consider joining us. 🙂