Norfolk, VA 6/22/2007 11:19:44 PM
News / Health & Wellness


Sims, Chatwin, and Gershman Take Part in Operation Smile International Mission to Peru

Actress and model Molly Sims, musician Benj Gershman and Canadian- born actor Justin Chatwin joined an Operation Smile medical team on an international medical mission to Lima, Peru, to assist children born with facial deformities.  The mission, which took place May 24-June 1, included a team of more than 40 medical and non-medical volunteers.  As new celebrity Smile Ambassadors, Sims, Gershman and Chatwin join a growing roster of artists and celebrities helping to raise awareness of the work Operation Smile does to treat children around the world suffering with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. 

 Sims, Gershman and Chatwin join Jessica Simpson, Operation Smile’s International Youth Ambassador, and the current list of 25th Anniversary Smile Ambassadors including:  Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Billy Bush, Vanessa and Donald Trump Jr., Melanie Dunea, and Nigel Parry.  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.
 While in Peru, the three new Ambassadors participated in all team activities, played with waiting children, took patient photos and assisted with medical records.  The team even celebrated Molly Sims’ birthday which took place during the mission.

 Actress and model Molly Sims, best known for her role on the popular TV show Las Vegas, co-hosted Operation Smile’s The Smile Collection fund-raising gala in New York alongside Access Hollywood co-anchor and Operation Smile Board of Governors member Billy Bush in 2006.  She spoke about her recent trip to Peru on behalf of Operation Smile. “These kinds of experiences in life are not easily come by.  We thank Operation Smile for enriching our lives and showing us a new frontier.  Operation Smile volunteers are wonderful, beautiful people that change children’s lives,” noted Sims.  “This experience with Operation Smile in Peru touched our hearts and made us realize how truly lucky we are, and how lucky these people are to have Operation Smile in their lives,” she added.

 Canadian-born actor Justin Chatwin, best-known for his roles in the Steven Spielberg film War of the Worlds and the 2007 film The Invisible, joined the mission as well.  He commented:  “Operation Smile brings so much more than new smiles to children.  For me it was the most thrilling, organized, and life enriching charity experience I've had.”

Musician Benj Gershman, the bassist for the popular American rock band O.A.R., also traveled to Peru and noted of his experience, “It is amazing what people will do for others when motivated by the right reasons.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to support Operation Smile during its 25th Anniversary, as the organization enters into a new era in changing children’s lives.”

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 40 simultaneous medical missions in 25 countries with a goal of treating an estimated 5,000 children.  World Journey of Smiles will begin with free medical screenings in each country November 8, 2007, with surgeries taking place November 12-16, 2007.

Operation Smile, founded in 1982 and currently marking its 25th Anniversary, 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. 

About Operation Smile (
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, 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.


Media Notes:  To request an interview or additional photos of the visit to Peru, please contact Lisa Jones at 757-321-3252 or