The Miss Universe Organization and Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, have announced a new charitable partnership to help raise awareness of the issues faced by children living with unrepaired clefts in the developing world.

The new relationship will provide opportunities for the reigning Miss Universe and international titleholders to get involved with Smile Train’s global initiatives in the 85+ countries where the charity helps children.

“We truly believe in what Smile Train represents – hope, joy, perseverance and transformation,” said Paula M. Shugart, President of The Miss Universe Organization. “We are extremely proud to work with an organization that is committed to delivering a positive impact to the communities in which we work, and are steadfast in our commitment to help support their efforts and long-term sustainability.”

Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Smile Train’s sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in the developing world to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their own communities. Since its founding in 1999, Smile Train has provided more than one million cleft repair surgeries across the world.

“We are honored to be a new official charity partner of The Miss Universe Organization to raise awareness for the vital cause of cleft lip and palate repair and related treatment,” said Susannah Schaefer, CEO, Smile Train. “We hope that this relationship will help us mobilize supporters, both new and old, by leveraging The Miss Universe Organization’s incredible voice and helping to transform lives in the process.”

The partnership will amplify a shared set of core values, centered on the organizations’ global reach and commitment to empowering children to lead full, productive lives.

To kick-off these efforts, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach will have the opportunity to meet with Smile Train’s Country Director for the Philippines, Kimmy Flaviano, while she is visiting Manila next week. Wurtzbach will learn more about the organization’s efforts and Smile Train’s local partners who are on the ground helping cleft patients 365 days a year.

“I look forward to my homecoming next week and helping to kick-off our organization’s new partnership with Smile Train,” said Wurtzbach. “As Miss Universe, I look forward to lending my voice and a helping hand to continue to raise awareness for children born with cleft lip and palate in the developing world, including my home country, the Philippines.”

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to make a donation, please visit

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