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Annual fundraiser instigates global initiative

Minot State University's Centennial Service Challenge, Power of 100, is designed to inspire MSU associates to volunteer in their communities. The goal is to honor MSU's 100th anniversary through good deeds all over the world. It's a lofty goal for sure, but the Department of Communication Disorders has adopted a project to take their mission into third world countries.

SMILE100 (Smile to the power of 100) is a descendant of a grass roots effort that began two years ago. In 2011, MSU student Emily Gordon, received money for Christmas with instructions to "pay it forward." Gordon approached her professor, Lesley Magnus, for suggestions on where to put it to good use, and Magnus suggested Gordon investigate Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes medical teams dedicated to healing cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities across the globe.

In May 2012, Gordon's "Miles for Smiles" was born and attracted approximately 45 walkers and raised $3,200. This year, walkers raised $3,400, all of which was donated to cleft lip and palate surgeries through Operation Smile.

Now students, faculty and staff in the Communication Disorders department have upped the ante. For their Power of 100 project, they've set their sights on raising enough funds to pay for 100 cleft lip and palate surgeries for children in developing countries. This puts them in the throes of raising $24,000.

"When we were trying to think of a service project, someone suggested we raise enough money for 100 surgeries," Magnus said. "We started asking, 'Can we get the students involved? Can we get the faculty involved? Can we get the staff involved? Can we get the university involved?' Everybody got really excited, so we said 'Let's go for it!'"

Magnus and her team registered SMILE100 on the Operation Smile website (www.operationsmile.org) and created a strategy to spread their message beyond the campus community. So far, they have raised $1,976, which covers eight surgeries. The department will continue fundraising until May, culminating their successful year with a favorite standby, the third annual Miles for Smiles walkathon.

"Students are thinking about different activities and how to make this bigger than just us," Magnus said. "It's a big chunk to bite off, but I think we can do it."

View the fund page for Power of 100 MSU Communication Disorders Department