Ashlee Simpson Ross, Evan Ross Honored at Operation Smile Gala
The annual fundraiser raised more than $500,000.
The Broad Stage in Santa Monica was packed Saturday evening with guests in attendance to support the Annual Operation Smile Gala, where musicians, and this year’s Universal Smile Award Recipients, Ashlee Simpson Ross and her husband Evan Ross were honored.
Dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman was this year’s Medical Visionary honoree, and real estate agent Susan Monus was this year’s John Connor Humanitarian Award recipient.
This year marks the 35th anniversary since the medical charity was founded in 1982 by Dr. William Magee Jr. and his wife, Kathleen S. Magee. The volunteer-based nonprofit encourages medical professionals to volunteer their time and skills to improve the health and well-being of children worldwide through free surgical care.
During the cocktail hour, guests placed bids in a silent auction of original lithographs including pieces from Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Longtime supporter and Operation Smile Ambassador Brooke Burke-Charvet attended with her husband, David Charvet.
“When we got involved as a family and took our children to Mexico to one of the medical missions, it changed our lives," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "We’re so blessed in our country we don’t normally see cleft palates and facial deformities.”
She continued: “The health care injustice is not something we’re really exposed to so we’ve prepared [our kids], and they understand it now. They understand the power of small ideas and what they can do, and it’s been a really important learning lesson for our children, and for us.”
Prior to the evening's festivities, Ashlee Simpson Ross explained to THR her involvement with the organization since the introduction of it through her older sister Jessica Simpson.
“This is an organization my sister [Jessica Simpson] was involved with years ago as an ambassador. We went on this trip to Park City and we were just in awe and inspired by the team that puts medical doctors and volunteers [together]," she said.
Husband and co-recipient Evan Ross also expressed how he has been personally affected since joining the organization.
“I feel like this is one of the most special things we do and spend time and find out how we can help more be apart of this incredible project," he said. "Operation Smile is so special — you get to see all these young children so happy and how easy it is to make a change.”
He added the importance of using their platform to educate those that may not know about Operation Smile.
“It’s about giving awareness. I don’t think a lot of people know about what’s going on and how many children are struggling with this. You can’t imagine the kind of confidence it gives them to know that there’s a way for them to feel comfortable themselves to be able to smile and to be able to feel a certain way about themselves. It’s powerful.”
Guests enjoyed live performances from singer Yoli Mayor and dancers The Les Twins. Evan Ross, alongside Austin Brown sang “Change The World” by Eric Clapton.
Following the performances, America Ninja Warrior host, Matt Iseman hosted a live auction where guests bid on visiting the sets of NBC shows This Is Us and Will & Grace. The evening ended with a dinner reception with beats by Beastie Boys' DJ Master Mike.