Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity, honored Stephen Berman of JAKKS Pacific, the Honorable Richard J. Riordan, Roselyn Sanchez and Eric Winter at its 8th Annual Smile Gala, October 2, 2009, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. A special presentation was made in honor of the Simpson family, Jessica, Ashlee, Tina and Joe Simpson, for their support of Operation Smile. Access Hollywood host Billy Bush served as Master of Ceremonies.
The Smile Gala was co-chaired by Dayna and Steven Bochco, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, Vicky and Raphael Mense, Kelly and Ron Meyer, Mary Jo and General Richard Myers and Leslie and Robert Zemeckis. International teen singing sensation Charice Pempengco performed and Andrea Fiuczynski, President of Christie’s Los Angeles, hosted a lively auction. Other guest speakers included Deidre Hall, Ken Paves and Nicole Lapin. More than $1.75 million was raised to benefit the organization.
Operation Smile Co-founders, Dr. William P. Magee and his wife, Kathleen, presented the Simpson family with the Operation Smile Founders Circle, an award designed to honor unique supporters who have made outstanding contributions to Operation Smile’s objectives as a family. Jessica, Ashlee, Tina and Joe Simpson have proven themselves beyond exemplary in their dedication to improving the lives of children throughout the world suffering from facial deformities. Jessica began her relationship with Operation Smile as a Smile Ambassador and attended an Operation Smile medical mission to Kenya with her father Joe in October, 2005. Jessica has also traveled to Washington, D.C. with Operation Smile founder Dr. William Magee and spoke to members of Congress on Operation Smile’s behalf.
Without a Trace co-star Poppy Montgomery presented the Universal Smiles Award to Roselyn Sanchez and Eric Winter. Roselyn and Eric are both Smile Ambassadors and attended a medical mission to Managua, Nicaragua, in 2008. Award-winning actress Roselyn Sanchez is currently starring on the CBS series Without a Trace and has appeared in Rush Hour 2, Chasing Papi, Basic, The Game Plan, The Perfect Sleep and Venus & Vegas. Eric Winter will star in the new ABC series Single with Parents and has had recurring roles on hit television shows Brothers & Sisters, Viva Laughlin and the cult vampire drama Moonlight. His other credits include CSI, Charmed, Pepper Dennis, Wildfire and Love Inc. He also co-starred in the films The Ugly Truth and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
Gala Event Chair and Smile Ambassador Roma Downey presented the Wallis Annenberg Public Service Award to the Honorable Richard J. Riordan. A well established and highly respected attorney, entrepreneur and philanthropist before entering public service, Riordan served two terms as the Mayor of Los Angeles from 1993 to 2001 and California Secretary of Education from December 2003 to June 2005. Riordan was also co-founder of the premier private equity boutique firm, Riordan, Caps & Carbone, which later became known as Riordan & McKinzie and merged with Bingham McCutchen in July 2003.
Riordan is a founding member of the nationally acclaimed LEARN school reform effort and a founding board member for L.A.’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), an innovative and nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ disadvantaged neighborhoods. In 1981, Riordan created the charitable Riordan Foundation with one goal in mind: to teach children how to read and write. The Riordan Foundation has distributed more than 21,700 computers to 2,100 schools in 40 states and has enabled the purchase of 128,000 books for elementary classroom libraries.
Smile Ambassador Nicole Lapin presented the Corporate Humanitarian Award to Genna Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of JAKKS Pacific who accepted the award on behalf of Stephen Berman, president and co-CEO of JAKKS Pacific, the fourth largest toy company in America. Berman co-founded JAKKS in 1995 and has since worked tirelessly as an ambassador to many of America’s greatest classic and popular brands. He has helped JAKKS foster relationships with Disney, Nickelodeon, Cabbage Patch Kids, Black & Decker, Namco, Pac-Man, UFC and Marvel. JAKKS has been named Vendor of the Year for Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us multiple times and has also been repeatedly featured in Forbes magazine’s annual list of 200 Best Small Companies in America and FORTUNE magazine’s annual list of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America.
Berman has been a dedicated corporate humanitarian, committed to paying it forward to help children in need all over the world. He created JAKKS Cares, the philanthropic division of JAKKS Pacific, where the company and employees engage in charitable giving, employee volunteerism, and integrating environmentally friendly global sourcing and manufacturing. JAKKS has donated more than $20 million in JAKKS Pacific products and monetary support to millions of children in need around the world. Berman is also a dedicated supporter of Operation Smile and has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund life-changing surgeries and is spearheading a JAKKS Pacific employee donation campaign in 2009.
Past honorees of the Smile Gala have included Roma Downey, Cindy McCain, the Trump family, Goldie Hawn, Calista Flockhart, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Molly Sims, Mario Lopez, Vicky Mense, Idol Gives Back, Victoria Jackson and Bill Guthy, Sy Goldberg, Wilt Chamberlain, John Salley, Karl Malone, Elton Brand, Norm Nixon and Corey Maggette.
Lladró, the renowned Spanish House of Porcelain, provided the awards presented to the Smile Gala honorees. Operation Smile’s Smile Gala was produced for the fifth consecutive year by Scott Mauro, Executive Producer of Scott Mauro Entertainment, Inc.
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