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Rotaplast International, an international humanitarian non-profit organization providing free reconstructive surgeries and treatment for children in need worldwide, will host a signature event — Passport to India Jan. 29, 2011, at Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco.

Garberville Rotary Club member Brian Walker will receive the Peter Lagarias Distinguished Volunteer award for his services at the event.

Walker, who is well known for his good deeds here in Southern Humboldt, has served on the Garberville-Redway Area Chamber of Commerce Board, been very involved with the Garberville Rotary Club and their many projects, and has donated many hours volunteering for Community Cornerstone, Inc. He was also honored as the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year a few years ago.

He is currently a Rotaplast board member, a mission director, and has been on 13 Rotaplast missions. His next mission is to Guatemala in March where he will also serve as mission director.

Heather Merriam, executive director for Rotaplast International, Inc. said, “We adore him. He is so helpful. He started his volunteer career with us just packing boxes and being available to do that — for every mission — and we run 15 a year. He is humble and will step in wherever he’s needed.”

”This extraordinary event will increase awareness of Rotaplast’s mission, raise money for general funds, and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the vision of Rotaplast,” stated Dr. Angelo Capozzi, a Marin County resident, who co-founded Rotaplast 18 years ago.

”We hope to send more teams of medical volunteers to perform free surgery with funds raised from this event,” stated Brian McLeran, a Rotaplast board member and chair for the event. He noted that proceeds will also support speech pathology, orthodontics, and training for surgeons internationally.

Rotaplast has treated nearly 14,000 children around the world who were born with cleft lips and palates. Children with un-repaired cleft lips and palates cannot speak or swallow food correctly and are prone to serious upper-respiratory problems and hearing loss. Their level of education and social development is often impaired by this debilitating birth defect.

Rotaplast currently sends missions to 16 different countries. It plans to conduct a mission to India in March, and again in August.

The black-tie, or Indian attire gala, begins at 6 p.m. and will include a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a lavish gourmet Indian feast. The evening’s program will include a premier live-auction, authentic entertainment, such as hand dancers, snake charmers, whirling dervishes and bhangra performance, as well as a plush Indian Lounge where guests can receive hand massages or henna tattoos. The evening will end with dancing.

Tickets are $225 each. More information can be found at: http://www.rotaplast.org/event/index.php, or contact Rebecca Bell at 415-252-1111 ext 104.

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