As a low-rent, commercial-type actress, I’m not usually invited to big-time money-harvesting events. But several friends whom I started out with at Y&R back in the Paleolithic Age have gone on to have Actual Careers where they made Serious Money and some (bless ’em) try to use it for good, not evil.
So last night, I piled into a (high-end) car with my successful writer-producer pal and headed to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a cocktail party that our even more successful former-ad-mogul pal had put together in his new, full-time-philanthropic career, raising awareness (and money) for The Smile Train.
(more after the jump)
This being L.A., there were some celebs there, notably the delightful Jane Kaczmarek and the perenially annoying Alex Trebek. But mainly, this was not a glitterati hang. In fact, while beautiful in a very different way, it was a pretty earnest-looking and down-to-earth crowdóalbeit with an international flair.
Maybe that’s because The Smile Train is such an amazing and unusual charity. Dedicated solely to providing free corrective cleft palate surgery to underprivileged kids around the world, The Smile Train is unusual in that: (a) using 3-D modeling and CGI, they’ve developed training techniques that teach local surgeons how to do the surgeries at a dramatically reduced ($250 a pop) price, thereby making the surgeries much more available to the kids who need them; and (b), the board funds all of the administrative costs, so 100% of donations go to the actual surgeries. Even the event itself was funded by the well-endowed (steady!) Smile Train board.
They showed picturesóbefore and afteróthat blew me away. They had a couple of the surgeons there from China and India, whose generosity and humility made me ashamed ever to have complained about anything in my unbelievably privileged-by-comparison life. But when the first Smile Train patient got onstage and ended the story of her heart-rending odyssey with an ear-to-ear grin and the simple, fervent wish that the studies made possible by surgery could result in her becoming a doctor so she could do the same for others…well, all I could think about was how I was going to get everyone I knew to put Smile Train on their donation list.
I’m guessing there are few, if any, of the Manolo Blahnik setóthose sports who could change a child’s life for the cost of a shoe (can you sell one pump on eBay?)óthat Ms. Kaczmarek slyly referenced in her rousing speech (she’s an ardent supporter) reading b.la. But I had to post about this anyway, since I have a feeling that our big-hearted (if smaller-walleted) readership might feel better knowing that the few disposable dollars they do have are going to the right place.
Or even that the perenially annoying Alex Trebek has some mitigating soft-heartedness in him…