Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Operation Smile Brings Altruistic Mega Stars to Town for Heartwarming Gala

111 Medical Missions Abroad Despite COVID

BY // 09.27.21
photography Quy Tran

Most would agree that Kathy and Dr. Bill Magee Jr. reign as mega stars in the world of altruism. As founders of Operation Smile, they oversee the worldwide campaign to provide cleft lip and cleft palate surgery for children in need. True, albeit understated, celebrities, the duo jetted in from home base in Virginia to headline Houston’s sixth annual Operation Smile gala.

More than 300 supporters filled the ballroom of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where the Magees mesmerized all with stories of memorable moments in the nonprofit‘s history, which began in the Philippines. Dr. Bill Magee, a plastic surgeon, and Kathy, a nurse and clinical social worker, traveled to the Philippines in 1982 with a group of medical volunteers to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates. From there, the nonprofit was born.

Last year despite the limitations caused by COVID-19, Operation Smile hosted 111 medical missions and served more than 15,000 patients who received surgery and dental care in 31 countries.

The evening honored Kent Schaffer and Shara Kuy, Shawntell and Keith McWilliams and Amy and Dr. Daryl Dichoso for their longtime support of Operation Smile.

Applause, applause for event chairs Viet Hoang, Sneha Merchant and Duyen Huynh Nguyen who arranged for the Magees’ presence and who spearheaded the effort that raised more than $275,000. During the event’s “Smile Auction,” Dr. Dane Hoang and Smile committee member Hoang Pham handed out Three Little Bears stuffed animals to generous donors.

KTRK Channel 13 news anchor Gina Gaston emceed the evening and introduced an emotional video of a volunteer mission in Guatemala undertaken by Sneha and Nick Merchant during the summer.

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