THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
1000+ volunteers & attendees at yesterday's 2nd Annual Smile Day! 😀 We cannot reiterate our smile thanks to EVERYONE who contributed to this year's celebration success! And the cherry on top? Another FRONT PAGE article in the newspaper today recapping ALL THINGS SMILE DAY 💜 Love, Momma Boh & Boh the Smile Guy 🙏
Smile ‘mission’ proves a success with fun-filled day
by Dan Stokes of The Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Whether you’re young or old, there’s always something to smile about.
“My mother and I couldn’t be any more thrilled about the turnout,” said Chris Bohinski, the driving force for Saturday’s second annual Smile Day at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center.
Bohinski, also known as “Boh the Smile Guy,” said attendance nearly doubled from last year’s inaugural feel-good event.
All the fun was designed to include everyone and build a sense of community.
“We had about 500 people last year,” said Bohinski. “We have been counting everyone who has walked through the doors. We probably had about 1,000 people if not more.”
Smile Day was a totally free event filled with activities such as bingo, dancing to music from a live DJ, and a pie-eating contest just to name a few.
“I was just grateful I was able to use my hands,” said pie-eating contest winner Craig Santucci. “It was my first time in a contest like this. I’ve been in hot dog-eating contests, but never a pie-eating contest.”
For Santucci’s winning efforts, he received a signed NFL football from legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Santucci, 57, of Danville, said he traveled to Wilkes-Barre for Smile Day because he follows Bohinski on Facebook.
“This event is great,” he said. “It’s awesome to see a kid’s smile. It’s the most important thing in life.”
All the free fun attracted a lot of other people as well, and Bohinski now counts them as friends.
“The number one thing from today is the amount of strangers that came out in support,” said Bohinski. “We met a lot of people for the first time. They aren’t strangers anymore.”
Bohinski and mother Barbara pioneered the movement. It’s an extension of Bohinski’s previous work with NYC Smile 4 Me, which he started in 2016.
When Bohinski returned home about a year-and-a-half ago due to his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Smile Day became a focal point for him and Barbara. The two bonded over the project and used preparation for the event as a way to distract from health hardships.
Smile Day featured something that Bohinski called “flash games,” but they were not really games. Volunteers recognized people in the crowd they saw doing nice things for someone else and they rewarded them with a prize.
“I think we will give out over 1,000 prizes,” Bohinski said.
He noted that over 200 volunteers from all walks of life helped make the day possible. Among them was King’s College student Thomas Swiatek.
“I like volunteering and helping others,” said Swiatek, of Shickshinny. “I really enjoy seeing others smile. So this was a perfect event for me to volunteer at.”
Part of Swiatek’s assignment for the day was to help pass out bingo cards.
“I had a lot of fun doing it,” he added. “I think Bohinski accomplished his mission today.”
Local politicians showed their support as well. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski both attended.
Sue Henry, who’s looking to unseat Pashinski in the approaching general election, also served as a volunteer.
“Chris asked me to help out and, of course, I said yes,” Henry said. “Him and his organization are great assets to the community. It’s nice to bring community members together for a positive reason.”
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes