Hampton Roads Elementary School Students Running "Kids Miles for Smiles" to Learn Importance of Exercise and Help Children Worldwide

       By: James Dyson
Posted: 2007-01-27 20:14:49
Operation Smile is excited to announce a partnership with The Shamrock Sportsfest. The event features a full marathon, half marathon, 8k race and Shorebreak Final Mile held March 16-18 in Virginia Beach, Va. Part of the Shorebreak Final Mile Program, designed to teach children the importance of exercise and proper nutrition, is the Kids Miles for Smiles program, created for students who would like to raise money for Operation Smile by collecting pledges for their completed miles. Students ages 7-13 participating in the Shorebreak Final Mile will run 25.2 miles, over a ten week period, and run one final mile on March 17 on the boardwalk for a total of 26.2 miles, the equivalent of a marathon. More than 30 elementary schools in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Suffolk are participating in the Shorebreak Final Mile program and many are collecting pledges for Operation Smile with the goal of raising $50,000.

One of the children participating from Virginia Beach is Gabrielle, a seven-year-old Alanton Elementary School second grade student born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Since she was six months old, Gabrielle has had four surgeries to repair her facial deformities, and receives speech therapy at school. She is not an Operation Smile patient, but one of Gabrielle's local plastic surgeons has been Dr. Bill Magee, Operation Smile Co-founder and CEO. The Kids Miles for Smiles project is close to Gabrielle and her family's hearts and the little girl has already raised $140 for Operation Smile.

Operation Smile President and Co-founder Kathy Magee said, "Thousands of young people around the world are involved with Operation Smile, so this partnership with the Shamrock Sportsfest is a great fit. The Kids Miles for Smiles program teaches the importance of exercise while teaching kids about how they can help other children around the world."

Brigette Clifford, daughter of Operation Smile's Co-founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, helped create the Kids Miles for Smiles program. Clifford is the mother of three boys who attend Alanton Elementary School in Virginia Beach and are participating in the Kids Miles for Smiles program. "We started the Kids Miles for Smiles program in an effort to help children learn about the world outside of Virginia. It has been amazing to watch children as young as five years old show compassion for a child they have never met, with the resolution that they are going to run as many miles as they can so that they can be personally responsible for changing the life of a child living with a facial deformity. As parents, we are witnessing positive change in our children, as they build character and develop leadership skills that ultimately will make them better and more caring people down the road." As a high school student at Norfolk Academy in 1985, Clifford and other students founded the first Operation Smile student club, called "The Happy Club." Today, thousands of students in more than 450 Operation Smile Student Associations worldwide build awareness, raise funds and educate thousands of students about the values of commitment, leadership and volunteerism, instilling in them for life the importance of giving to others. Student volunteers raise an estimated $600,000 annually for Operation Smile. At least two high school students accompany each international mission team.

About Operation Smile (http://www.operationsmile.org/)
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 is commemorating 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.
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