Students fight for smiles across the world


Hunter LyleReporter

Members of Operation Smile on campus said they are dedicated to raising funds to help save children’s lives across the world.

As global organization, Operation Smile is dedicated to helping children with cleft palates, cleft lip and other facial or dental conditions, receive treatment and surgery.

While the official organization may be stationed in third world countries, that does not stop Rachel Lassogna and the rest of the members from supporting and contributing towards the cause. Lassogna, a communication disorders major, is vice president of this university’s chapter.

“[I wanted to join] because it helps people with cleft palate and I think that it is really important that we fundraise for it,” said Lassogna. “We’re able to help give everyone the opportunity to have the surgeries because they’re so expensive.”

As the message spreads, more chapters of Operation Smile have been opened across the world. From the Georgetown University chapter, to the chapter in University of Wasit in Iraq, Operation Smile has gained support from many high school and colleges across the world.

Chrirstie Abreu, a senior, communication disorders major, is treasurer of Operation Smile, who said she joined the organization because of what they do for children.

“I was just really interested in the programs about helping kids and adults with cleft upper palate and what it stood for,” said Abreu. “I started getting interested in cranial anomalies and that is actually my focus with what I want to do when I finish grad school. I want to do a mission trip with Operation Smile once I get certified and everything.”

Cranial anomalies, such as cleft palates and cleft lip, are
life threatening conditions, especially to young children. According to the Operation Smile national website, “as many as 93 percent of children with untreated cleft conditions will not survive to reach their 20th birthday.”

Operation Smile has multiple events on campus during the year to help fundraise money for the organization, including a pumpkin painting event that was scheduled for last Wednesday.

“We have fundraisers throughout the semester, so we have bake sales and we are going to have a toy drive at the end of the semester,” said Lassogna. “All the proceeds either go to surgeries in Connecticut or third world countries.”

Lassogna said that the organizations biggest event on campus was their annual 5K during the spring semester.

“We have a lot of faculty come and students and families. I believe it’s $25 to join the race and then you get a T-shirt and food for it,” said Lassogna. “It’s just a 5K all around campus and I believe all the money goes to third world countries. So, it’s a big fundraiser, we raise a lot of money then.”

Ledia Fazo, a junior, communication disorders major, said she joined the club because of the organization’s inspiring mission statement.

“It’s really empowering to know that you are doing something to help such a big population,” said Fazo. “Plus knowing that I could be personally involved with this somehow in the future, I know I want to work with kids and teenagers. I just want to be involved with that.”

According to Operation Smile’s website, a donation of $240 could help a child get a potentially life-saving surgery.

Photo Credit: Hunter Lyle

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