Happy World Smile Day! In honor of this holiday, Smile Train is hosting a celebrity-filled event that is taking place tonight, October 2nd, online. Smile Train is "an international children's charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate." One duo we're especially excited to see at tonight's virtual fundraiser is Agents of SHIELD star Elizabeth Henstridge and her fiancé, Zachary Burr Abel (Make It or Break It, The Secret Circle). The couple will be hosting the pre-show and promises it will be a lot of fun. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to chat with Henstridge and Abel, who explained the importance of the charity, how they got involved, and how easy it is to help out.
"A good friend of mine was involved with Smile Train, and she reached out to me," Abel explained. "It was a few years ago, and I had no idea the impact that could be done. I was quite unfamiliar with cleft and once Elizabeth and I started learning a lot more about it, we just knew what a serious thing, and any way that we could possibly help or contribute, we were just really interested in."
"We were lucky enough to be able to go and see the incredible work they do firsthand," Henstridge added. "We went down to Mexico City and got to meet the most gorgeous baby and her parents, we got to meet the surgeons and actually observed the operation. Then, as the aftercare and pictures of this gorgeous smiling child, who we just witnessed her life being saved."
"Not just that, but the education that Smile Train brings and the infrastructure they put in place so that their goal as a charity is for them to not be needed anymore," Henstridge added. "And to us, that just feels like such a brilliant place for us to personally put our money that we donate because they're trying to become irrelevant, not needed. Their model is so sustainable and just to see firsthand the work that they do and the amazing people that they bring together, really does give you hope."
The couple is hosting the event's pre-show, which begins tonight at 7:30 PM EST.
"We're going to be doing it from the basement of Zach's parents' house," Henstridge revealed. "So we're going to make it as jazzy as we can, but in typical 2020 quarantine fashion, we are in the Midwest, kind of on lockdown a little bit, but we have some really fun things planned. We have some amazing guests, but Ciara is the main host, which is just amazing. And then we have appearances from Gabrielle Union-Wade, Elle King, Kevin Smith, and maybe some other people that people may recognize in there. I don't want to spoil it. And we're just going to have a good time. I think now more than ever, we could all do with a smile."
"And whether it's 5 bucks or 100 bucks or however much you want to give, every dollar literally counts," she explained. "And for a life-saving surgery to be $250, it just feels like it's attainable. We're going to ask people to send in their smiles and tag Smile Train on Instagram. Every little bit helps. Just visiting their website and just watching our pre-show is going to, hopefully, help spread the word and educate. If people share a smile and share Smile Train with one other person, whether you can donate any money or not, that's brilliant. That's the whole point. We want to help spread the word and if people feel able to donate then that's wonderful, too. I just know that anything you can donate will make a huge, huge difference."
"Money is potentially very tight this year," Henstridge noted. "It's been stressful and a strain on so many people this year and the most amazing thing about the life-saving operations that Smile Train provides to these kids is that it can cost as little as $250 all in. So if you're looking at somewhere that maybe you don't have as much to give as you might otherwise, or you're worried about wanting to save maybe more than normal, every dollar counts when it comes to Smile Train and the work they're able to do, and they make it really easy to donate. You just text SMILE to 5 0 1 5 5."
"What was that again, Lil?," Abel added in perfect co-host fashion.
"Oh, that was text SMILE to 5 0 1 5 5," Henstridge replied. "You can tell we've been practicing."
You can register for Smile Train's event here. Stay tuned for more from our interview, which features Henstridge talking Agents of SHIELD!