As Sharif Atkins, from the USA Network hit series White Collar, sat in the Operation Smile recovery room in Quito, Ecuador gently holding a child who had just woken up from the surgery that will change his life forever, he realized that this moment would change his life as well.
Also well known for his role as Dr. Michael Gallant on ER, Atkins now knows that TV drama could never compete with the real-life emotion of an Operation Smile surgical mission.
“I met an infant boy Michael and his grandmother on the first day of patient screenings; we hit it off and I quickly bonded with them,” said Atkins of his experience. “I came away feeling as if Operation Smile, and the work they do to bring all the doctors and voluteers together to save lives is the hand of God.”
More than 200 children and young adults arrived at the site on the first day, where they each received comprehensive healthcare evaluations from medical teams. Ultimately, 99 of those patients would receive free surgery for their cleft lips, cleft palates, burns and other facial deformities.
Throughout the week, Sharif worked alongside the Operation Smile Ecuador foundation members and the medical volunteers that hailed from Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela, and the United States to help these children in need.
Upon his return, Atkins continued lending his support to important causes when he joined Ted Baehr to announce the nominees for the 2013 Movie Guide Awards (2/7) presented by the Christian Film & Television Commission. The awards will be presented at the Universal Sheraton on Friday, February 15. Criminal Minds star Joe Mantegna will host.