Aaron Gruenhage returns serve while teammates Ashtyn McKenzie, Dirk De Waal and Jessica Bailey get set for the next volley. It was “A Spike For A Smile” grass volleyball tournament at Willoughby Community Park near the Langley Events Centre to raise funds for children with cleft palates in Third World countries. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Volleying in Langley to help children with cleft palates

Athletic fundraiser in support of Operation Smile organized by Miss Universe finalist

Jessica Bailey said she could have just asked people for donations in support of Operation Smile, but she wanted to make the initiative “a really fun time” that would educate people about the campaign to help children with cleft palates in poor countries.

So Bailey, who plays on the Spartans women’s volleyball team at Trinity Western University in Langley, came up with a ‘A Spike For A Smile’ grass volleyball tournament.

Bailey also happens to be a finalist in the Miss Universe Canada contest, which supports Operation Smile, the nonprofit medical service organization which performs cleft palate and cleft lip surgeries for children around the world.

“It’s such a simple surgery that these children are given,” Bailey said.

“And it changes their life.”

The day-long Sunday (Aug. 20) tournament at Willoughby Park near the Langley Events Centre raised $700 for Operation Smile, with four-person coed teams that had whimsical names like “Digs and giggles,” the one that Bailey played on, “Sub-par” and the eventual winners, “We shall not be named.”

There was a table with posters and pamphlets and other information about the efforts of Operation Smile.

“It went off without a hitch,” a pleased Bailey said.

The 19-year-old Langley resident is one of 72 national finalists — one of six from B.C. — who will vie for the title of Miss Universe Canada at a competition that runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 8.

The winner of the Miss Universe Canada contest will represent the country in the Miss Universe 2017 competition.

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by a married couple, a plastic surgeon and nurse, after they traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates.

It has provided more than 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults with facial deformities.

dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

 

Dirk De Waal intercepts a shot during “A Spike For A Smile.” The grass volleyball tournament at Willoughby Community Park near the Langley Events Centre to raise funds for children with cleft palates in Third World countries. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Jessica Bailey returns serve. She was one of the players during the “A Spike For A Smile” grass volleyball tournament at Willoughby Community Park near the Langley Events Centre to raise funds for children with cleft palates in Third World countries. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

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