BY Brenda Garza | The Rider
Harvey Ball, an American commercial artist from Worcester, Mass., created the world’s first smiley face in 1963 and on Friday, millions around the world will celebrate World Smile Day because of his devotion to help people have a nice day.
His smiley face creation brought happiness and good cheer to many people around the world and in 1999, the first ever World Smile Day was introduced, according to worldsmileday.com.
Since then, every first Friday in October, World Smile Day is celebrated in Ball’s hometown and around the world. The World Smile Day message is to do an act of kindness and help at least one person smile.
However, Ball only introduced the concept after he believed that his image was losing its identity and symbolism through over-commercialization. Concerned, the idea emerged to have an annual celebration to promote acts of kindness.
The smiley face creator thought that every single person in the world should devote a day out of the year to make people smile and do acts of kindness.
“The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion,” the website states.
Operation Smile is one of the many organizations that seek to make children who suffer from cleft lip or cleft palate smile again, no matter their situation.
“At UTRGV, the Operation Smile club became the first university-based club in Texas. It was established in the 2016 spring semester and helped raise $1,440,” said Lesley Robles, co-founder and president of UTRGV’s Operation Smile club. “The club’s main goal was to raise enough funds to cover six surgeries.”
This semester, the organization created awareness and provided an outlet for community service by hosting the second Smile Dolls event, held Sept. 23 in the University Ballroom on the Edinburg campus.
About 100 people attended the event and more than 80 dolls were donated.
“The dolls are given to the children who are about to go into surgery and are used by the doctors to explain the procedure,” Robles said.
Lilly Villarreal, a pre-medical biology sophomore, attended the event and spoke about living with cleft lip.
Villarreal’s testimony made everyone aware that though she is different; she is the same as everyone else. The scar does not define her, and she is willing to talk about her experience to anyone who asks.
“I connected [with her story] because I have my own cousin that has a cleft and went through the same procedures,” said Amber Huizar, a pre-dental biology junior and secretary of the Operation Smile club. “Sharing her point of view reminded me of my own cousin and it motivated me more to be more involved and make sure we raise a good amount of money to provide those free surgeries.”
Since 1982, Operation Smile has targeted the children in poor regions of the world and anyone seeking their help. The globalized organization has provided free surgeries to hundreds of thousands of children from more than 60 countries.
“In honor of World Smile Day, Operation Smile and our supporters are raising funds to help create 150 new smiles for children in Ghana,” Julie Brumana, Operation Smile’s student programs associate of the U.S. Western region, wrote in an email.
Kathy Magee, co-founder and president of Operation Smile, stated on operationsmile.com that she believes that every child with a facial deformity is of concern. “If we don’t take care of that child there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.”
For more information, visit www.worldsmileday.com and www.operationsmile.org.