Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity, honored Harrison Ford, John Stamos and Susan Casden at its 9th Annual Smile Gala on September 24, 2010, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Access Hollywood host Billy Bush served as Master of Ceremonies and Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale of GLEE performed.
Special guests attending the gala included Operation Smile Ambassadors John Salley, who served as guest auctioneer, Carmit Bachar, Deidre Hall, Donald Trump, Jr. and Vanessa Trump. A highlight of the evening included a performance by Philippine Smile Ambassador Chadleen Lacdo-o. More than $1.5 million was raised to benefit the organization.
Operation Smile Co-founder and CEO Dr. William P. Magee presented the John Connor Humanitarian Service Award to Calista Flockhart on behalf of legendary actor and humanitarian Harrison Ford who was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. The John Connor Humanitarian Service Award is presented to those individuals who have demonstrated their concern and love for their fellow man through their actions and deeds.
In February 2010, Ford volunteered his time, piloting skills and aircraft in response to an urgent request from Operation Smile for logistical support after the organization announced it was sending additional teams and over 2 ½ tons of medical supplies to Haiti. Ford made several trips over a two-day period to a remote dirt landing strip in Haiti and delivered a team of Operation Smile volunteers along with critical medical supplies. Strongly committed to environmental concerns, Ford is actively involved in a number of conservation groups including Conservation International.
Garry Marshall presented the Universal Smile Award to actor/producer John Stamos. Stamos’ career has spanned over 25 years, beginning with the hit soap General Hospital, later segueing to the popular ABC series Full House, and recently starring in NBC’s Emmy Award-winning drama series ER. Stamos continues to find success in many different areas of the entertainment world. He can be seen this season on HBO’s Entourage as well as the Fox hit series GLEE. Stamos also has enjoyed tremendous success on Broadway starring in Bye Bye Birdie, Nine, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Cabaret. Through his St. Amos banner, he produced and starred in a Lifetime original movie The Two Mr. Kissels, ABC’s Jake in Progress and Thieves. Currently in development is a project for Lifetime titled Safe Haven, based on the charity Project Cuddle for which Stamos is the National Spokesperson and Chairman of the Advisory Board. Stamos also has displayed his musical talents while touring with “The Beach Boys.”
Philanthropist and long-time Operation Smile supporter Susan Casden was presented with the Wallis Annenberg Public Service Award by Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung. In 1991, Casden participated in Operation Smile’s inaugural mission to China and earlier this year took part in a mission to Cebu, Philippines. Casden has been an active board member of Aviva Family and Children’s Services and a member of the Women’s Initiative Advisory Council for the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
Casden also sits on the Board of Councilors of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC) and, with her husband, Alan, established the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life at USC. She is a founding member of the Friends Committee of the Asian Cultural Council in Hong Kong and serves on the Visiting Committee of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Her philanthropic interests and activities reflect her global perspective and are focused in three areas: children and family, education and the arts.
Past honorees of the Smile Gala have included Roma Downey, Cindy McCain, the Trump family, Goldie Hawn, Calista Flockhart, Jessica Simpson and family, Nick Lachey, Molly Sims, Mario Lopez, Vicky Mense, Idol Gives Back and many more.
The need for quality cleft care is urgent. Every 3 minutes, it is estimated that a child is born with a cleft condition. One in 10 children born with a cleft will die before their first birthday. Children born with a cleft are often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. With the help of medical volunteers and generous donations, Operation Smile provides free surgeries to children around the world to heal their smiles and transform their lives.