Million Miles, Million Smiles
While traveling abroad many years ago, Eric Thompson recognized that many families, especially those with children, lacked basic necessities that are often taken for granted in the United States. Hearing about the impoverished nations and actually seeing the suffering are two different perspectives.
The seed was planted when Eric thought about the people he saw who were lacking consistently clean water, basic nutritional needs, and access to any medical treatment, schools, and jobs. He continued to search for a way he could help when a long-time friend approached him and offered a seat on a plane heading to meet up with a missionary group in Latin America. Eric jumped at the chance and the group decided the best way to use Eric’s skills as an entertainer would be to organize shows in each of the many villages they would visit. The news of a professional American entertainer coming to perform for them brought out large crowds and anticipation in every village they visited.
The children fell in love with his humor and the magic tricks. In many villages he quickly became known as “Senor Mago Loco,” translated that’s Mr. Crazy Magician. The children would see his show at their school during the day and bring their entire family to the village center or a large church for a second show that evening. It was here that Eric had the opportunity to meet and talk at length with many of the people. He learned of their plight and how they worked to combat the problems associated with poverty and hunger.
Needless to say, these people touched Eric in a way that no one else could. Having shared their homes, food and fellowship, Eric knew what he would do to help. Upon returning to the United States, he began a campaign to raise money to buy not just a handout for his new friends in Latin America, but an opportunity to grow their own food, more than they could possibly consume and be able to sell or trade the extras at the market.
Eric quickly decided that this would become an obsession, and he named his program MILLION MILES MILLION SMILES. He made his promise to the world to visit as many remote and distressed destinations where people were void of joy and hope. Bringing his ability of magic and comedy performance, Eric helps them learn to laugh and forget their problems, even if just for a little while. At many of his MILLION MILES MILLION SMILES destinations he tries to arrange a donation of food for the families in his audiences to take home.
Eric raised thousands of dollars by performing benefit shows where portions of the proceeds went to the charity. These donations were surpassed by the many fraternal, religious and community organizations who have continued to support this cause with donations. Many of Eric’s oldest friends and clients have generously made private donations to some of Eric’s favorite mission groups.
Much of the money has gone to purchase pairs of chickens for families in Guatemala and West Africa. The families take care of the chickens, harvesting some of the eggs for food and allowing the others to hatch. Within a few months to a year, they have a flock that gives them an endless supply of protein via eggs and meat to feed their family as well as selling the other birds and eggs at the market. Eric’s passion and generosity has created dozens upon dozens of entrepreneurs in several nations around the world. This action is helping to eliminate poverty in many villages, one family at a time.
Eric has taken his talents to communities on several continents around the world in such far reaching places as Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, The Bahamas, Martinique, Burkina Faso, West Africa and more.
Eric has also spent untold hours raising money and awareness for the less fortunate in the United States, too. He regularly performs in homeless shelters, churches and charities raising money and awareness for countless charities.
This past Christmas season, Eric wanted to send a few pairs of mating chickens to the families in Burkina Faso and Guatemala that befriended him during his time in their countries. Setting out to raise enough money to send two dozen pairs of chickens to each nation, Eric put the word out at a handful of his performances and via social media. Within a couple of weeks, he and his friends had collected enough money to purchase more than 220 chickens to help hundreds of people in the villages in Africa and Latin America where Eric spent time performing and making friends.
Eric continues to work with his old friends while he works to visit more countries. Over the next several years his plans include visits to perform and offer food assistance to people in China, South America, and India.
All of this travel and travel related expenses are done without donations or grants. Eric and his family pay for the trips and use any donations or offerings to directly benefit the people who need it most. There is ZERO administration cost deducted from the money Eric collects. MILLION MILES MILLION SMILES is an idea, a groundswell of compassion and generosity of Eric Thompson and a wide circle of his friends and family who want to help those who need it the most.