Operation Smile helping Utah children

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For more than 20 years, the nonprofit organization Operation Smile has been giving poverty-stricken children new smiles and a second chance at life.

In addition to the miracles performed overseas and in third-world countries, the organization hits the heart of our own community, helping families and children at a local level.

Four years ago, at eight months old, little Tasia Roberts' underwent surgery to repair a cleft lip and gum at the hands of local surgeon Dr. Greg Kjar.

Operation Smile helping Utah children

"She had some problems with eating and speech, and it was visually noticeable," said Tasia's mother, Tricia Roberts. "I worried about her looking like a beautiful young lady and being able to eat, and I worried about her even having teeth."

As a single mother of four, Tricia also worried how she would pay for her infant daughter's medical bills. Thanks to Dr. Kjar and the Utah Chapter of Operation Smile, the reconstructive surgery was free.

"I'm really grateful for operation smile and Dr. Kjar. I mean, it's changed our life," Tricia said.

"For me, it's a very satisfying experience," Kjar said. "If you don't have a smile that is natural, people don't accept you as readily. So this is an attempt to give them the opportunity to have something they might not otherwise have."

"It's a tough time in the world, and I think that now, more than ever, we need the hope that Operation Smile can give to the world through the smile of a child," said Michael Nebeker, chairman of the Operation Smile Utah Board of Directors.

It's a gift even 4-year-old Tasia doesn't take for granted.

KSL is a proud sponsor of Operation Smile's "1000 Smiles" campaign. Our goal is to raise enough money to provide 1,000 children with new smiles.

There is one week left to meet that goal, and currently we have enough to sponsor about 800 smiles, so still a little ways to go. CLICK HERE if you would like to donate to the cause.

E-mail: bwalker@ksl.com

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Brooke Walker


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