Category Archives: Operation Smile

Operation Smile Featured in “A Cure to War . . . six degrees of humanity ”

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
—Abraham Lincoln


During Dr. Bill Magee’s appearance at Imaging USA in New Orleans, he referred briefly to Operation Smile’s role in helping to repatriate the remains of U.S. POWs from Vietnam. Last fall this remarkable story was recounted in a 30-minute film, narrated by Craig T. Nelson, of “Coach” fame. It portrays the drama of the unlikely behind-the-scenes story that led up to Operation Smile’s 1989 mission to Vietnam and how it softened the hearts of former enemies and ultimately led to the normalization of between the U.S. and Vietnam. Here’s a summary of the film:

A Cure to War” uniquely weaves the stories of seven individuals, whose independent efforts would help to rebuild relations between Vietnam and the United States, recover the remains of soldiers lost in the Vietnam War, and bring smiles to tens of thousands of Vietnamese children and their families by providing access to free surgical healthcare.


In 1989, President Ronald Reagan and General John Vessey sent the largest group of Americans into Vietnam since the fall of Saigon in 1975. They weren’t soldiers, but surgeons. An Operation Smile team of 38 medical professionals – including seven Vietnam War combat veterans – were part of a MIA/POW initiative to return the remains of soldiers lost during the Vietnam War. During the medical mission, they worked with Vietnamese surgeons to provide free reconstructive surgery for more than 100 Vietnamese children who suffered from clefts.

Bridging stories from both present-day Vietnam and historical accounts leading up to Operation Smile’s historic 1989 medical mission, “A Cure to War” reveals the emotional and political roller coaster of how a children’s charity and its medical volunteers opened the doors to normalization when so many other efforts had failed.

Since that first 1989 mission, when surgical teams were limited to operating only when electricity was available for 2 hours per day, Operation Smile has touched the lives of 30,000 children in Vietnam. If you watch the film, you’ll see young Duy, the child whom PPA member Graham Wilson photographed on his mission to Vietnam in 2009. Graham’s images are posted on the PPA Charities website at this link.


This inspiring film reminds us, as narrator Craig T. Nelson states: “Today, the simple smile of every child and family helped is a reminder of how the hard work of a small group of people can overcome decades of war and isolation and how a smile can bridge cultures and make friends of former enemies.” It also provides one more reason why PPA Photographers can be proud of their support of Operation Smile.

You can view the film at

China Operation Smile Video Features “Fix You”

At the January 15 “Power of Charity” platform program at Imaging USA in New Orleans, Dr. Bill Magee, cofounder of Operation Smile, played one of his favorite Operation Smile videos, which includes a Coldplay track “Fix You,” approved by the artists for use in Operation Smile’s global fundraising campaign. It’s a perfect background for featuring the mission and miracles performed by Operation Smile volunteers.

A Message to PPA Members from Operation Smile’s Co-Founder, Dr. William P. Magee, Jr.

mageeNote: The PPA Charities Trustees received this email from Dr. Magee in response to a new PPACH fundraising project that will benefit Operation Smile; The first nationwide “Celebration of Smiles” promotion will take place on April 21, 2012, and you will be hearing much more about it soon. Dr. Magee will be on hand for the official announcement during the Imaging USA January 15, 9:00 A.M. program on charitable marketing, “The Power of Charity,” also featuring Beverly Walden, Sarah Petty, and Mary Fisk-Taylor. He also will attend the PPA Charities Celebration gala on January 14, from 8:00 – 11:00 P.M. Don’t miss either opportunity to spend time with this extraordinary humanitarian.

Sorry for the delayed response. I am in Asia right now and have not had good access to my email. I love what you are doing, and will send this off to Kristie Porcaro who is head of our Development and to Kyla Shawyer who heads our Marketing. They will know the best route to help you.

On this trip we were in the Philippines as we begin to help with the celebration of our birth there almost 30 years ago. Kath and I had the opportunity to be interviewed on a TV morning talk show, ABS – CBN, to share our message with the Filipino Community. As we left for the airport, they asked us to meet a 9 year old boy with a Cleft Lip and Palate brought to the studio by his Mom and Grandmother. He has never been to school. They live in Manila and yet they never knew that their child could be helped until recently.

Although we have watched this same story unfold over and over again, it never ceases to amaze me that this scenario still exists even in the major cities of the countries where Operation Smile has a presence.

With the help of our staff and volunteers in Manila, we immediately organised for the family to be helped at the “Makati” mission which will take place in a few weeks. That simple moment of kindness took all of about 5 minutes. Yet if Operation Smile Philippines didn’t exist that “magic” moment could not have happened. We left that child, his mom and grandmother all in tears as they tried to thank us and as usual tears filled all of our eyes as well.

I am often asked why do we continue to push ourselves now 30 years later. At times it is difficult to put into words. However, probably the easiest way to explain it still brings me back to chance encounters such as the one that we had just a few mornings ago. That is what keeps our drive and passion alive.

However it is also the opportunity to work with organizations such as yours. Organizations who are willing to stand side by side with us as we plan the future. That is what gives us the courage to be confident that we will be able to keep the promises we have made to these families. The promise that we will do our best to be “present” for them.

Kathy and I thank you again for all that the PPA Charities has done and continues to do.

All the Best,


Wiliam P. Magee Jr., DDS, MD,

button4aFor the third straight year generous students, instructors, and directors of the Texas School have elective to support Operations Smile, the charitable partner of PPA Charities. Starting with a fantastic donation of $4,500 from the Texas School itself, headed by Don Dixon, who also serves as PPA president, instructors and students challenge each other to give as much as they can to help Operation Smile carry out its important work around the world. Altogether, the Texas School donation for the 2011 totals $21,069!

Because Operation Smile medical and support personnel donate their time, it costs only $240 to provide the gift of life-changing surgery to a deserving child. When adding this year’s Texas School donation to those of the previous two years, this means that Texas School students, instructors, and trustees have donated a total of $62,069 to Operation Smile and therefore are responsible for saving well over 250 precious smiles!

thankstxschool.1Special thanks goes to the following “Leadership Classes” that donated $1,000 or more. These classes were instructed by:
Mary Fisk-Taylor and Jamie Hayes – $1,110 hayestaylor

Sam Puc’ $1,000 puc

Tim & Beverly Walden – $1,120 walden

And a big round of applause to David Ziser’s ziser
class, which raised the winning total $2,045!

Simon’s Inspiration

If you want to catch the holiday spirit, take a moment to visit Simon’s Circle, by clicking here.

Simon is the 10-year-old son of Honorary PPACH Trustee for Florida Britney Fullgraf. Simon has already raised over $240 by selling notecards and bookmarks of his own images.

You also can keep up with Simon’s fund-raising activities by networking with him on Facebook.


Thank you, Simon, for your support of PPA Charities and Operation Smile . . . but even moreso for being a role model and inspiration to all of us!

Goldstein’s Guide to Christmas Shopping

As editor of The Connecticut Spotlight, the publication of Connecticut Professional Photographers, PPA Charities Trustee Harvey Goldstein can be counted on for lively editorials. This month, he shared his wisdom (and holiday photograph) on the subject of holiday gift-giving, with a nice shoutout for PPA Charities. It is reprinted here with Santa Goldstein’s permission:


The Chanukah candles have burned out, the latkes (fried potato pancakes) have been enjoyed, the dreidels have stopped spinning and the 8 days of gifts has ended. ARE YA READY FOR SOME CHRISTMAS? We do it all in our house so December is just one long holiday and food-fest. In the Goldstein house, we easily slide from latkes and sufganiyot (soof-gah-nee-YOT), which are jelly doughnuts that are eaten on Chanukah to Christmas ham and anginettes (Italian cookies).

Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Have you started your Christmas shopping?
My suggestion for gift-giving is to honor someone with a donation to a charity in their name. We all have “stuff”. As a matter of fact, we all have too much “stuff”. Why continue to clutter everyone’s home with “stuff”? You can give to the Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Diabetes Foundation, St. Jude… and the list goes on. My favorite is PPA Charities ( PPA Charities is the philanthropic arm of the Professional Photographers of America. In 2005, PPA Charities named Operation Smile as its charitable partner. A perfect fit for photographers, whose daily business is creating smiles for their clients, Operation Smile’s mission is repairing childhood facial deformities including cleft lips and cleft palates.

At the 2010 PPA Convention, PPA Charities presented a $100,000 check to Operation Smile, surpassing their goal by $30,000. The goal for the 2011 PPA Convention is $120,000, but we need your help. If you purchase a smile ($240) before December 25, your donation will be matched and you will be purchasing two smiles for the price of one. Can you think of a better way for a photographer to spend his/her gift money?

There are many worthwhile charities but only one that combines what you do every day (make children smile) and giving hundreds of children the opportunity to smile. Our mantra is normally, “$240 will change a life”; from now until Christmas, our mantra
is, “$240 will change TWO LIVES.” It will actually change three lives, because it will
certainly change yours as well.

Wishing my fellow MOT a belated Happy Chanukah and to most everyone else, a very
Merry Christmas! Whatever holiday you celebrate, celebrate with zest and gusto, but also
safely. And to all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!


‘Tis the Season to be Giving! Here’s How Your Clients Can Help You Support Operation Smile


The holiday season is a time when people are especially willing to reach out and help others in need. It’s a great time to ask your clients to join you in supporting Operation Smile, so here’s an idea from PPACH Trustee Ann Monteith:

Each holiday season we display a tree that is decorated with family photos in miniature frames that have been in our family for many years. This year we decided to use the tree to help us raise funds for Operation Smile. Our friends at Marathon Press created colorful ornament designs that we printed on heavy-weight paper stock and placed on the tree. During our sales sessions we are asking clients if they will donate $5 or more to Operation Smile, letting them know that we will match each of their donations with our own. The sign below explains the promotion and mentions a holiday special that also benefits Operation Smile: Duplicates of any 8×10 or smaller prints are half price, and we will donate that 100% of these purchases to the charity.

Click here to download .jpg files of Ann’s 8×10 sign, which you can edit to add your own special offer

Click here to download the various ornament fronts and back copy, to which you can add your studio logo.

Red Green Purple Gold Blue Back

PPA Trustee Graham Wilson Covers Operation Smile Event



Earlier this month, PPA Trustee Graham Wilson, whose Visions Photography is located in Littleton, CO, provided the photographic coverage for Operation Smile’s annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) in Denver. Over 400 students from 12 countries attended the event, which is held annually at a different university around the world. Its purpose is to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and character, receive training on how to help those in developing countries, as well as increase their cultural awareness. Thousands of students in more than 600 schools around the world are involved in Operation Smile’s Student Programs, making a difference in children’s lives worldwide and learning the importance of volunteerism. The International Student Leadership Conference for 2011 is scheduled to be held at the University of Beijing.


One of Graham’s responsibilities at the ISLC was to photograph Jessica Simpson, Operation Smile’s International Youth Ambassador, who mingled with students prior to her opening night presentation. Since 2003, Simpson has helped to spread awareness for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate as well as the work of Operation Smile. In 2006, she visited Capitol Hill to speak on behalf of the organization. She has participated on international medical missions to Kenya and India, where she donned scrubs and witnessed the work of the surgical team in the operating room. Recently, Jessica launched a new initiative called A Beautiful Me in collaboration with Operation Smile, to help inspire self-esteem in young people who can then use their confidence and personal strength to change the world.

According to Graham, Jessica proved to be a good sport, mingling with the students and talking to them about her experiences on the mission in Africa. The conference also included addresses by master motivator Dan Clark, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, as well as by Dr. Bill Magee and his wife, Kathy, the founders of Operation Smile. According to Graham, “the stories from the speakers were truly inspirational, and they intensified my resolve to help this incredible organization.” Dr. Magee is shown below as he introduces Jessica Simpson for her opening-night presentation.



“It was a real treat to be involved in such an amazing event, with so many incredible people,” said Graham, who met up with two students who took part in the mission to Vietnam that Graham documented last year. “Those girls are both incredible high school kids, and I had a wonderful time visiting with them,” he said.

Graham caught the image at left of Operation Smile founders Bill and Kathy Magee, whom he met for the first time last year during his coverage of the Vietnam mission, which was one of 16 medical missions conducted simultaneously across Vietnam from November 4 through November 16 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Operation Smile’s presence in that country. Graham is shown with his wife Annemarie and Dr. McGee in the photo below. You can view a video that Graham made of his Vietnam mission by clicking here.


Operation Smile Reaches Milestone: 150,000 New Smile Surgeries

opsmile_logojpgOn August 3, 2010, Operation Smile proudly announced a significant milestone: the organization has given 150,000 smiles to children and young adults around the world who previously suffered from a debilitating cleft lip or cleft palate. More than 150,000 lives are now changed forever.

Since, 2005, when PPA Charities chose Operation Smile to be its charitable beneficiary, PPA members and vendors have donated more than $250,000 to Operation Smile, meaning that photographers who make their livings by bringing smiles to the faces of their clients, are responsible for helping Operation Smile volunteers save 1,041 of these 150,000 smiles. It takes only $240 to fund the gift of surgery to a child by Operation Smile’s volunteer medical and support staff.

In 2010, Operation Smile trustees hope to save 500 more smiles through PPA member-donations, having set a goal of $120,000, which will eclipse 2009’s record-breaking donation of $100,000.



Please stand together with your fellow PPA members to make possible the miracle of surgery for children such as these beautiful twins whose lives were changed forever because caring individuals gave them the life-changing gift of their smiles. To see more examples of Operation’s Smile’s extraordinary work around the world, view videos by clicking here.