Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA Spread Smiles in São Paulo

November 13, 2019 | Smile Train

Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray, joined Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst, and Miss Teen USA 2019, Kaliegh Garris, to celebrate World Smile Day® with Smile Train patients and partners in Brazil.  Smile Train has supported comprehensive cleft care to more than 40,000 children in Brazil since 2001.

The visit was part of a larger partnership between Smile Train and the Miss Universe Organization to provide opportunities for titleholders to get involved in Smile Train’s initiatives around the world.

Miss Universe titleholders in Brazil posing with Smile Train doctor

Catriona, Cheslie, and Kaliegh arrived in São Paulo and didn’t waste any time — in just a few hours, they had the special opportunity to witness the power of cleft surgery at Hospital Municipal Infantil Menino Jesus.

Miss Universe watches speech therapy session

Next, the group sat in on a Smile Train-supported speech treatment session. They learned that speech is an essential part of the cleft treatment process that gives cleft patients the ability to be understood and the confidence to speak up in school.

Titleholders pose with Smile Train patient preparing for cleft surgery

To end their first day, the women met with 10 Smile Train-supported families to hear their stories. “It’s amazing to see how these children’s lives are being transformed with comprehensive and 100%-free cleft care,” Catriona said.

The next morning started with a presentation at a conference of Brazilian plastic surgeons on the role of philanthropy in treating cleft lip and palate.

Smile Train patient Wesley holds his baby picture

Then it was off to meet Wesley, a Smile Train beneficiary who lives with his family in a suburb of São Paulo. Besides his cleft, Wesley was also born with a heart condition for which he spent his first three months of life in the ICU, and he has another heart surgery coming soon.

Miss Universe titleholders play soccer

Although they hailed from Brazil, the United States, and the Philippines, the group soon discovered they shared a common language — soccer.

Miss Universe titleholders on the couch with a baby with untreated cleft lip

On the final day in Brazil, the titleholders met Bernardo — a baby born with a cleft who will soon receive a free Smile Train-supported cleft surgery — and his family at their home. While there, Catriona translated a letter from Rachel Peters, a former Miss Universe titleholder from the Philippines, wishing Bernardo good luck ahead of his surgery. At least, she tried to read it — she had to stop partway through so everyone could wipe away tears.

Miss Universe titleholders on the couch with a baby with untreated cleft lip

For Catriona, Chelsie, and Kaliegh, the visit was a welcome opportunity to simply be themselves, playing and laughing with some adorable, inspirational kids. “It has been very gratifying to meet the doctors, and physiotherapy and orthodontics professionals who work in this cause,” said Catriona. “Miss Universe has a large platform that provides contact with people from all over the world. I am not here to show that I am beautiful or glamorous; I am here because I want to help people.”

Join Catriona, Chelsie, and Kaliegh in spreading smiles to children around the world by making a gift to support Smile Train’s cleft programs today.