Mariah Carey, Oscar D’León, Carmit Bachar, Dhani Jones and Roselyn Sanchez Support Operation Smile’s Efforts to Bring Smiles to Children Across the Globe during World Journey of Smiles

Norfolk, VA 10/12/2007 09:45 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults born with facial deformities, is pleased to announce its growing roster of “Smile Ambassadors,” celebrities who are joining Operation Smile during their 25th anniversary year to bring greater awareness to the effort.  This group of notables joins Jessica Simpson, Operation Smile’s International Youth Ambassador, and current Smile Ambassadors Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Billy Bush, Vanessa and Donald Trump Jr., Melanie Dunea, Nigel Parry, Molly Sims, Justin Chatwin, and Benj Gershman, who continue to bring awareness to the plight of these children in need. The latest group of celebrities to join the program includes Mariah Carey, Oscar D’León, Carmit Bachar, Dhani Jones and Roselyn Sanchez.  As Smile Ambassadors, each celebrity will have the opportunity to visit one of Operation Smile’s partner countries during the year, where they will help bring global attention to the needs of children born with facial deformities.

Operation Smile, founded in 1982, has medically treated more than 100,000 children and young adults around the world and in the United States.  In addition to contributing free medical treatment for children born with facial deformities, Operation Smile trains local medical professionals and leaves behind necessary equipment to lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency with ongoing medical care. 

According to Operation Smile CEO and Co-founder Dr. Bill Magee:  “These 25 years could not have been possible without the dedicated support of our volunteers and our sponsors, including those who use their celebrity to help raise attention for children in need.”  His wife, President and Co-founder of the organization, Kathy Magee added:  “We have been privileged to share this journey with so many wonderful people who have helped make this organization a global success and want to thank all of those who join with us today to help expand awareness.”

Smile Ambassadors announced today include: 
Singer, songwriter and actress Mariah Carey is best-known for her remarkable vocal range and record-selling singles. Carey has recorded the most U.S. number-one singles for a female solo artist and has earned five Grammy Awards.  She has been a supporter of Operation Smile for the past four years and attended various fund-raising events including The Smile Collection fundraising event in New York in 2006.  Carey continues her support of Operation Smile by becoming a 2007 Smile Ambassador.

Oscar D’León, internationally recognized Venezuelan Salsa singer is the first Latin American celebrity to join Operation Smile’s 25th Anniversary Smile Ambassadors.  During the 1980s, D'León achieved success in salsa music, and is now one of the great singers of Caribbean music.  The singer announced his decision to join as a Smile Ambassador during the “Let’s Smile with Oscar D’León” fundraising concert that was celebrated in Venezuela in early June and raised $30,000 for Operation Smile Venezuela. D’León said, “I have so much passion for this organization and the children that need help. As an artist, I will continue doing everything possible to raise awareness about this important cause in order to bring these children a smile to their face and a chance at a better and healthier life.”

Carmit Bachar, is an American singer and dancer best known as a member of the pop group, The Pussycat Dolls.  Bachar was born with a cleft lip and palate and is a 2007 Smile Ambassador. “No child should have to endure growing up with a correctable facial deformity, says Smile Ambassador Carmit Bachar. “I know firsthand the impact this has on a child’s life and I am honored to join the effort to not only help bring surgery to those in need, but also to help reduce the stigma and shame associated with this condition, particularly in developing countries.  The work that Operation Smile and its Co-founders the Magees are doing to help children around the world is an inspiration and I am proud to be a part of it.”  Bachar will be participating in an upcoming Operation Smile international medical mission in Bolivia.

Dhani Jones, a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, began his NFL career with the New York Giants in 2000 and joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 playing three seasons.  Off the field, Dhani, which means “thinking man” in the Hindu language, markets his own line of bow ties, hosts a show on ESPN2, served as a postseason reporter for NFL Network, and was a guest conductor for the Philly Pops orchestra. While growing up, Jones developed a strong sense of world awareness and social responsibility and he is proud to support Operation Smile as a Smile Ambassador.

Puerto Rican-born actress Roselyn Sánchez, appears on CBS’s Without a Trace and can currently be seen on the big screen opposite The Rock in The Game Plan for Disney which opened at #1 in the box office. She also starred opposite Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in the blockbuster Rush Hour 2 and her performance in that movie earned her an ALMA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The American Latino Media Arts Award, or ALMA Award, is an important distinction awarded to Hispanic performers who promote positive portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment field. Sanchez’s other films include:  starring opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in the romantic comedy Boat Trip; starring opposite John Travolta, Sam Jackson and Giovanni Ribisi in Basic and the Forest Whitaker produced film Chasing Papi.  She began her career in Puerto Rico, where she gained public attention as a dancer and co-host of the variety show Que Vacilón.  Sanchez will be participating in an upcoming Operation Smile international medical mission to Nicaragua.

The Smile Ambassadors are selected based on their commitment to global philanthropy and a willingness to speak out on behalf of children. Their visibility and passion will be harnessed to bring large-scale awareness to the needs of children worldwide throughout the organization’s 25th Anniversary efforts, including the November 2007 World Journey of Smiles, which will feature simultaneous medical missions in 25 countries with a goal of treating an estimated 5,000 children. 

About Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org)
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is a
worldwide children’s medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults.  Since its founding, Operation Smile has treated more than 100,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. In addition to
contributing free medical treatment, Operation Smile trains local medical professionals in its 25 partner countries and leaves behind crucial equipment to lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency.  Operation Smile commemorates its 25th Anniversary with a year-long, multi-faceted series of initiatives to promote sustainability and capacity-building among its 25 mission countries.  The year-long anniversary celebration will culminate in November 2007, with the World Journey of Smiles, more than 40 simultaneous missions in 25 countries, with a goal of providing new smiles and new lives for an estimated 5,000 children living with facial deformities.



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