Cyclists to embark on Miles for Smiles

2019-02-27 06:00

MILES for Smiles PE to CT is at it again, cycling over 1 000km on a bicycle to raise awareness of how important a smile is.

From tomorrow, February 28 to March 10, a group of 18 companions will take on the tarmac, cycling from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, all the while smiling, sweating and sharing awareness in aid of Operation Smile.

According to Shannon Smit, an Operation Smile volunteer, who works for the operation’s national ambassador, Johnson and Johnson, they completed a tour in March 2018, where they managed to inspire donations of almost R100 000.

“Our tour group will consist of 12 riders and 6 drivers.”

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 when plastic surgeon Dr William Magee Jr and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker, travelled to the Philippines with a group of volunteers to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates.

“People pushed their babies at us,” recalled Kathleen.

“They tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes and begged us to help their children.”

Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate and has twice the odds of dying before their first birthday.

Children with cleft conditions who survive may have difficulty eating, speaking, hearing or breathing properly. In too many cases, their parents can’t afford the surgery they need for them to lead a productive life.

Operation Smile raised the funds to help change the lives of almost 20 children with R100 000 donations in 2018.

They hope to build on that this year and fund at least 25 children.

“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes anothers, smile at someone and receive a smile in return; these are to me a continual spiritual exercise,” said Dr Leo Buscaglia.

The Miles for Smiles awareness ride will be covered on Facebook and Instagram.

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