Operation Smile hosts New York Smile event

Greenwich residents Lisa and Mat Lori, along with Kathy Van Zeeland and Bruce Makowsky were honored with the Founders Circle Award at Operation Smile’s 12th annual New York Smile event on May 1 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Operation Smile is the world’s largest medical charity of its kind providing free cleft surgery and care. Michael Strahan, co-host of Live with Kelly and Michael, kicked off the evening welcoming the more than 500 supporters to the event.

NBC’s Natalie Morales served as Master of Ceremonies. Singer and Tony-winning actress, Jennifer Holliday, performed. The evening raised $1 million for the organization.

The evening honored the Loris, Mrs. Van Zeeland and Mr. Makowsky for their contributions and efforts in helping Operation Smile share the joy of a simple smile through their many fund-raisers and initiatives. Most notably, they launched an extraordinary project called, The Three Little Bears, named after the Lori’s three sons, Zachary, Luke and Griffin, who were all born with facial paralysis. The two families have raised nearly $1 million for the organization.

The Smile Event also honored actor Sharif Atkins with the Universal Smile Award for his work as an official Smile Ambassador. Since 2011, Mr. Atkins has been a Smile Ambassador strongly supporting the organization’s global efforts. He has raised countless dollars to heal smiles through Crowdrise as well as National Smile Month in 2012, which helped provide life-changing surgery for 50 children. He also volunteered on a mission in Ecuador in 2013. Adding to the joy of the evening, Mr. Sharif proposed to his girlfriend, Bethany Hotchkiss, on stage to a roar of applause, as the event came to a close.

Microsoft Corporation received the Corporate Humanitarian Award, accepted by Michael D. Robinson. The company’s continued generosity has launched Operation Smile to become a truly 21st century organization. Leveraging resources and partnerships, Microsoft has facilitated donations of more than $1 million in technology, in addition to invaluable time and commitment from its team to Operation Smile’s mission.

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