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Supporter Story United States

A Lifetime of Giving

Bob Scheel, left, and his wife, Joan, visit with children in Guatemala during a past humanitarian trip to the country. Photo courtesy of Bob Scheel.

Our promise of improving health and dignity during the COVID-19 pandemic endures. We're helping front-line health workers stay safe, nourished and empowered to better serve their patients by providing life-saving supplies and equipment, as well as remote training to bolster their response. We’re also providing nutritional assistance, hygiene kits and virtual health services to support people and their health needs so they can thrive. If you can, when you can, help us keep our promise to care for children and create hope for tomorrow.

For Bob Scheel, giving back was his life’s passion – particularly when it came to the well-being of children living in places of need.  

That’s exactly what brought Bob and Operation Smile together.  

Throughout much of the U.S., the Scheel family is best known for its sporting goods stores. However, many people may not know that behind their successful business is a deep commitment to philanthropy in the communities they serve, including donating 10% of its profits to charities and nonprofits they are passionate about.  

A supporter of Operation Smile since 2004, Bob knew that the surgeries and care he helped make possible transforms children’s lives, helping them to better breathe, eat, speak, and live their lives with confidence.  

“Helping to change the lives of children is something I have always been passionate about and is truly dear to me,” Bob said. 

Donations of masks and nutritional kits were given to patients and their families as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the country of Guatemala. Photo: Carlos Rueda.

For years, Bob has supported various charitable efforts in Guatemala, a country that holds a special place in his and his families’ hearts and is home to an Operation Smile care center. Our year-round care center in Guatemala City provides children affected by cleft lip and cleft palate with the comprehensive services they need to grow up happy and healthy, including nutrition support, dentistry, orthodontics, psychological counseling and more.  

In 2019, Bob was approached with the opportunity to expand his impact and continue building his lifelong legacy of giving. Bob worked with his regional development officer to find the perfect fit for his compassion and generosity. Through this process, he chose to double his largest previous gift to support the care center’s operations.  

Since 2011, Operation Smile has executed 16 medical missions in Guatemala City, providing surgical care to more than 1,000 patients with cleft lip and cleft palate. Through our work, we have come to intimately understand the challenges our patients face, and it is through this lens that we craft solutions that bring safe and effective surgical care to those who need it most.  

A mother looks at her child moments after surgery during a local medical mission in Guatemala City. With the help and generous support from donors like Bob Scheel, our work taking place in Guatemala has improved the lives of thousands of patients and their families. Photo: Carlos Rueda.

In 2020, Bob yet again rose to the occasion and increased his giving in support of furthering Operation Smile’s life-saving work in Guatemala’s care center, and their critical infrastructure needs. Our ability to reach patients and help families is only possible because of donors like Bob, and you.   
If you are interested in learning more about how you can deepen your impact and further change lives, contact your regional development officer. 

On May 3, 2021, Bob Scheel passed away. We send our deepest condolences to the Scheel family and everyone who knew and loved Bob. His memory and legacy of generosity will live on through his compassionate gifts. 

Thanks to compassionate donors like Bob Scheel, Guatemalan patients and families like Maria and her father are living happier and healthier lives. Photo: Carlos Rueda.


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.