Sgt. Carl Prefers Actions (and Smiles) Over Words

January 16, 2018 | Smile Train

Major Donor Smile Train

Carl Uchiyama spent much of the 1970s and 1980s in the US Marines. After the many years of service to his country, Carl rejoined civilian life and, through studying art, music, yoga, and martial arts, found the yin and yang in his life — balancing his austerity and strength with caring and compassion.

In 2005, Carl grew tired of hearing everyone around him complain about the state of the world. Rather than joining the chorus, he reenlisted in the US Army Reserves to do something about it. This time period coincided with Hurricane Katrina, where he assisted in the traumatic days after the storm. “I love doing humanitarian work, but seeing so many people in pain made me wish our world would have bigger hearts and reach into their pockets to do something about it,” said Carl.

Recently, Carl watched the Miss Universe pageant and saw a segment about the work Iris Mittenaere had done with Smile Train over the course of her reign. Carl’s mind flashed back to his time serving in Asia and South America and the children he had seen living with untreated clefts.

“Seeing those kids hurting and stigmatized, made my heart hurt. I’ve had surgeries and I have my own scars. However, at the touch of a button, I can get the best surgeons in the world — these kids don’t have that. It stuck in my mind — the next time I saw a Smile Train ad, I started donating.”

Carl does nothing half-heartedly, so he donated the entirety of his hard-earned military bonus check to give smiles to eight children. Though he will never meet the children, he said that knowing he has changed their lives forever will bond them forever.  

Carl already has plans for his giving next year. Carl shared, “I was able to donate for eight kids this year, which just makes me feel like I can do 10 smiles next year. A child being able to eat or breathe is so much more important than collecting more things — I’ve been blessed and don’t need more things. I plan on ramping up my support until I get to 30 kids a year.”


Smile Train thanks Carl for his generous donation and the example he sets, living a life of service and being a person of action. We look forward to continuing to change the lives of children with him for years to come.

If you would like to join Carl in his support of Smile Train and help us provide more children around the world with new smiles and second chances at life, please make a gift today.