Kate Walsh, Lionsgate TV's Kevin Beggs Honored at Smile Gala
Harrison Ford was on hand to present an award to surgeon Randy Sherman, who provides free surgeries for Operation Smile.
This year’s Smile Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel reminded guests that you can’t take a smile for granted. Hosted by Smile ambassador Brooke Burke-Charvet, the event honoring Kate Walsh, Kevin Beggs and physician Randy Sherman raised more than $3 million for medical charity Operation Smile to provide free surgeries to children across the globe born with a cleft lip or palate.
Burke-Charvet opened the evening sharing personal experiences from her family’s volunteer trip with to Mexico. Actor and past honoree Harrison Ford presented the Wallis Annenberg Public Service award to his friend Randy Sherman, who has been a volunteer surgeon for Operation Smile for over 25 years.
PHOTOS: From Bill Clinton to Ryan Seacrest: 17 of Hollywood's Biggest Philanthropists
Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns presented the humanitarian award to his colleague Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs. Beggs grew up watching his adopted brother from Guatemala, Estuardo, receive a series of surgeries to fix his cleft lip. Years later after his health was restored, Estuardo was even able to reconnect back with his biological family.
“All they had was a photo and Facebook.” Beggs told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a great story. It will be a movie someday.”
The Newsroom actress Corinne Kingsbury presented Private Practice star Kate Walsh with the Universal Smile Award for her fundraising efforts. After visiting a children’s hospital during her days with Grey’s Anatomy, Walsh has raised money to provide surgeries for over 2,000 children. She has matched what her fans have donated over the holidays and participates in the annual Celebrity Ski Challenge organized by NBC President Jennifer Salke and her son Henry Salke, who was born with a cleft lip.
“All I had to do is walk in once and see these kids and I could tear up talking about this,” said Walsh “It’s a no brainer, and I hope in 2014 to go on a mission wherever they’d need me.”
PHOTOS: The Music Industry's Greatest Givers
Jennifer Salke, a previous recipient of the Founders Circle Award and Henry Salke were present as longtime supporters who strive to make the health resources they received during Henry’s operation more accessible to others around the world.
“I remember like it was yesterday -- my own son being born with a surprise cleft lip,” said Salke. “I knew I would get him the help that he needed but I just see these people struggling to find solutions that feel so out of reach for their children and I can’t not do something about that.”
At eightyears old, Henry Salke organized a fundraising page for Operation Smile that began one of the many campaigns he has spearheaded. He hopes to continue to raise money for the foundation by initiating a social media plan with celebrities to reach out to the younger generation.
“The moms come out and they see their kid after they went through surgery and never thought it was possible for them to have their face regular,” said Henry Salke. “When you’re raising money and you hear how many kid’s smiles you’re saving, that’s an amazing moment.”
The Voice singer Sasha Allen and Brooke Burke-Charvet’s daughter Neriah Fisher serenaded the audience with musical performances. Guests ended the night in all smiles while dancing to the sounds of DJ Mix Master Mike.