Volunteers Engage Vital Partners in Delivering Smiles

Volunteers are at the heart of Operation Smile. This past year, many of our medical volunteers were dedicated to front-line service across Canada as the pandemic unfolded.  Their focus was where it needed to be, with lots of encouragement and support from the team at Operation Smile Canada.

With borders closed and travel restrictions in place, medical volunteers stayed close to home. Many, like Helen Wagner, reached out with heart-warming messages that signaled their ongoing commitment and involvement with our work and the children we serve.

Helen, an operating room nurse from Windsor, ON wrote saying, “I look forward to once again being on the frontlines with Operation Smile. I will be ready when the borders begin to open and Operation Smile is utilizing international volunteers once again. Although I realize there may be a lot of changes, if there is anything I can ever do for my Operation Smile family, you just have to ask.”

Thank you to each and every medical volunteer for keeping us safe and healthy, every day.

Canadian Volunteers in Oujda, Morocco, March 2020
Canadian volunteers Nina Hardcastle, Candace Mielnichuk, Holly Leung, and Helen Wagner on a mission in Oujda, Morocco, March 2020
Dillon Fournier

The health and well-being of our patients was a motivating force for our dedicated community ambassadors like Dillon Fournier.

It took Dillon a little less than 24 hours to reach his goal of raising $1,000 for Operation Smile Canada. It was February 22, 2021 and he had just run the first five miles towards his goal of running 1,000 miles. He had also just launched his fundraising campaign on Facebook the previous day.

Dillon was born with a unilateral cleft lip and understands what every child we serve goes through. “I really benefited from our healthcare system and I know the kids that Operation Smile serves have a really hard time accessing safe, timely cleft surgery.” That’s why he’s passionate about our work, and why he became a community ambassador and created “A Smile for Every Mile” fundraiser through our Longest Day of SMILES® campaign.

“I wanted to give back and help the cause,” Dillon said, and running was his way to do it. Each of his runs is about 5 miles – mostly through the scenic farmlands of Eastern Ontario, and he’s running 3 to 4 times a week. He has run nearly 700 miles so far and is motivated to continue.

“I set my initial goal at $1,000, or $1 per mile, which in hindsight might have been a little modest,” he said. His new fundraising goal is $2,400 (the equivalent to 10 new smiles for children) and he’s just shy of reaching that goal as well.

Dillon is just one of hundreds of community ambassadors involved with Operation Smile Canada through Longest Day of SMILES®, which raised over $777,000 thanks to generous Canadians and corporate partners. Each community ambassador helps raise awareness of cleft conditions, the need for surgery in low- and middle-income countries, and like Dillon, raises funds for new smiles and comprehensive cleft care.

If you’d like to learn more about Longest Day of SMILES® or get involved, click here