Monthly Archives: May 2010

Texas School Contributes $24,000 to Support Operation Smile!

texas-school-title-slideThanks to the ingenuity, support and generosity of the directors, instructors and students of the 2010 Texas School, PPA Charities succeeded in raising $24,000 for our charitable partner, Operation Smile, far surpassing last year’s outstanding Texas School donation of $17,000.


How It All Got Started . . .

Texas School is the largest of all PPA Affiliate Schools in the country, and this year the week-long event drew over 1,000 students from throughout the U.S. and abroad. The tradition of PPA Charities fundraising at Texas School began spontaneously in 2008, when a few instructors, who were familiar with PPACH’s support Operation Smile, encouraged their class members to donate. This effort culminated at the Thursday evening all-school party when school director Don Dixon offered to shave his head if the donation could grow to $5000. It did, and Don lost his hair!


In 2009, Texas School instructors encouraged their classes to buy as many smiles as they could by playing an Operation Smile video so that students could learn how this organization’s incredible volunteers can perform life-changing surgery for a desperately needy child for only $240. Jed and Vicki Taufer’s class alone donated an amazing $7,300 for individual contributions and auctions of merchandise and private classes by Jed and Vicki. Their donation, along with those from other classes, along with an impromptu auction of donated vendor items, resulted in a $17,000 contribution to Operation Smile!

A Texas School Tradition

With the 2009 donation, which represents 70 smiles, two years of impromptu acts of generosity at Texas School toward PPA Charities have created what is now a Texas School tradition! So for 2010, each class was challenged to help PPA Charities by raising enough so that we could donate at least two smiles ($480) to Operation Smile. With 33 classes at the school, we hoped to come close to the 2009 donation of $17,000. To generate additional excitement, PPACH offered a full Texas School scholarship to be given out to a member of the class that raised the most, as well as a scholarship to “Chicks Who Click” for every $1000 raised by each class.

100 Smiles for 2010!


We were amazed and astounded at the effort some of the classes made; only a few raised less than $100, and, remarkably, Helen Yancy’s class raised $4,000 by holding a raffle for a fine art print created by Richard Sturdevant, shown at left (see Richard’s fabulous print up close on the homepage of his website). Most attendees were involved at some point, which made it fun for Texas School and very rewarding for PPACH. In the end, we raised over $24,000 . . . 100 smiles!

PPACH Executive Director Bert Behnke was on hand at the school’s trade show so that he could provide information on PPACH and PPA to attendees.

Thanks to Texas School for their incredible leadership on behalf of PPA Charities; we can’t wait for the 2011 edition of Texas School, which will be held in Dallas on May 1-6, 2011! For information on Texas School, click here.

Laurie Weaver Chosen to Document Operation Smile Mission

headshotWhen Laurie Weaver packs her cameras to leave on an Operation Smile mission later this year, it won’t be the first time that she has used photography to spread the word about important charitable causes. In fact it wasn’t until 2007, when Laurie was asked by a friend to photograph the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, that she was forced to acknowledge her secret desire to become a professional photographer. “I nervously showed up at the media tent with three times as much gear as I needed hanging from my body, wearing some really cute sneakers,” she explains. “Twenty thousand runners and walkers later my photographs were moving across the Jumbotron screen, and I was hooked.”

Her new photography career was quite a change from her former life, which had been spent as an architecture student and then an architectural design engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “I always had a camera nearby and stuck my nose in the activity of any photographer I saw,” she recalls. “I was especially impressed by the photographers on NASA’s zero-gravity plane who could shoot and film while floating inside the cabin of a KC-135 aircraft.”

Today, Laurie’s feet are planted firmly on the ground in her Austin studio. Her photography style aptly represents the sentiment she expressed on the home page of her website: “A memory is a painting dabbed with streaks of intense light and color; yet empty without the softer, muted tones of everyday life.” Little did PPACH know how lucky Operation Smile would be when Laurie’s name was drawn from the hundreds of photographers who qualified for the mission opportunity by donating to Operation Smile in 2009; in only a few words, she tells visitors to her website all they need to know about her motivation as a photographer and why she is so well-suited to document an Operation Smile mission:



I love imagery and movement,
the complexity of light,
and the
brief sparkle of a connection.
People are intriguing,
their potential energy, amazing.

I have degrees in Architecture &
Extreme Environmental Design.
I love my 3 kids,
and they make me crazy.
I played at being a writer,
tumbled down ski slopes
& ran marathons.
I am in love with my
high school sweetheart.
I designed space habitats at
NASA and believed in dreams.

Photography has been my
passion throughout.

You can visit Laurie’s website by clicking here.