PHOTO GALLERY: Operation Smile to hold Soakathon fundraiser

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PHOTO GALLERY: Operation Smile to hold Soakathon fundraiser

Akshay Agrawal

Update May 9, 2:30 p.m.: The Soakathon will be held during lunch, May 11. The article has been updated with a list of participating teachers and certain elected student officers, who are participating as well.

Update April 10, 9:34 p.m.: Due to poor weather forecasts, the event has been cancelled and rescheduled to “early May,” according to MV Operation Smile President freshman Anirudh Kunaparaju. The article has been altered accordingly.

MV Operation Smile’s Soakathon fundraiser will have students throwing water balloons at teachers. The club will donate all proceeds to Operation Smile, which provides free reconstructive surgeries for those with facial deformities. Photo by Margaret Lin.

On May 11, one dollar will purchase three water balloons and one to three soaked teachers or officers (or none, depending on the thrower’s aim.)

With its first-ever Soakathon, which is to be held during lunch in the rally court , MV Operation Smile will continue its fundraising effort for its parent organization, an international charity that provides reconstructive surgeries free-of-charge to children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.

According to MV Operation Smile Vice President sophomore Jessica Ho, the club decided on a water balloon fundraiser because it wanted to get teachers involved while providing an incentive for students to contribute to the charity’s cause. While the club has already had a number of fundraisers this year, including Club Day, bake sales and gift wraps, Ho has particularly high hopes for this event — if all goes well, it may become an annual fundraiser.

“For people at this school, they’re not likely to just donate a dollar into a box,” Ho said. “They usually like to have some fun out of it, which is what the Soakathon is for.”

Ho, who grew up watching infomercials on cleft lips, stated that reconstructive surgeries can help those with cleft lips overcome ostracization. She also emphasized the need to fund such surgeries in impoverished areas — Operation Smile makes this possible as their medical volunteers travel around the globe on a weekly basis.

MV Operation Smile President freshman Anirudh Kunaparaju became involved with the cause after witnessing what his uncle and cousin, both of whom were born with cleft lips, went through.

“Whenever I used to visit [my uncle and cousin], there would be everybody and then there would be them,” Kunaparaju said. “They would be out of the group because they looked different … They didn’t have friends — as many friends.”

At its core, according to Kunaparaju, Operation Smile is about equal opportunity.

“If [my uncle and cousin], [who] are so accepted and live in society, [who] actually make money and have jobs, are ostracized so much … Could you imagine what would happen to the kids in Africa who aren’t even given those luxuries?” Kunaparaju said. “They might end up on the streets for their entire life.”

According to Kunaparaju, however, his cousin “wants to be accepted for who he is, not who he can be,” and has chosen to abstain from surgery.

Kunaparaju’s uncle underwent reconstructive surgery and has pledged to donate $1000 to Operation Smile per year.

Participating teachers and student officers will rotate in two shifts, as follows:

Shift 1:
Ben Reckenwald
Jackie Kolbeck
Pete Pelkey
Brian Dong
Viviana Montoya-Hernandez
Jacob Lui
Sara Yang
Ryan Chui

Shift 2:
Kyle Jones
Jay Shelton
Matt Brashears
Jim Birdsong
Katie Williams
Karishma Mehotra
Neil Fernandes
Christina Aguila
Arnon Karnkaeng

Update May 15, 9:58 p.m.: Article was updated to include photo gallery (below). 

Kunaparaju called the event a success: water balloons were sold out within twenty minutes, and the club then sold buckets of water for $2 each.