Margie Gonzalez has been a strong supporter of Operation Smile for years. On Tuesday, Plant City residents put a smile on her face.
Plant City residents teamed up to throw Gonzalez a surprise party for her 90th birthday, which was Tuesday. They decorated their vehicles with balloons and signs and birthday wishes, met at the Walden Lake Community Association office and a parade line of approximately 15 golf carts and cars drove past her home to honk and wave and wish Gonzalez a happy birthday.
“I am the luckiest woman alive,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez made headlines in 2017 when, for her 87th birthday, she pledged to walk 87 miles — one mile for each year of her life — in an effort to raise money for Operation Smile and an extension of the work she and her fellow members of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Plant City was already doing with the organization. That organization is a nonprofit medical group that provides free facial surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries. She braved the heat and walked around her subdivision until she hit her mileage goal, and she also raised nearly $4,000 for Operation Smile.
“Whenever I would wake up and just be too tired to go walk or was considering stopping, I would just think of the faces of the children who have successfully had the surgery and suddenly I was ready to go,” Gonzalez told the Plant City Observer in 2017. “It’s as simple as that. I’m doing this for them. They’re my inspiration.”
That was not the last time Gonzalez hit the ground walking to help Operation Smile and others in need. She’s been known to go door to door if it meant helping a cause, such as the food drive and fundraiser the Woman’s Club hosted for the United Food Bank of Plant City back in June.