Earlier this month, Frito Lay returned with the Smile with Lay’s campaign, a promotional campaign featuring people across the nation who have helped bring smiles to their communities. Over the course of the past year, Lay’s scoured various news sources to find stories of people spreading kindness in their communities. This year, 31 outstanding individuals will be featured on over 60 bags of the legendary potato chips. Proceeds from each bag sold will benefit Operation Smile, a nonprofit medical service organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of children and young adults suffering from cleft conditions.
Among those featured on this year’s Smile with Lay’s bags is Lawrence Mann. In 1996, Mann founded Top Achievers, a Plano-based organization committed to being a hub of resources to help kids form a path to follow in life. Mann was inspired to launch Top Achievers after his oldest son needed open heart surgery at the age of five.
“I remember my mom telling me before I left Detroit, ‘Lawrence, there will be some situations in life where you will be faced with a crisis. In that time, you will need to make a vow to God, but don’t break it. And whatever it is, He will get you through this crisis,’” Mann recalls. “So that’s what I did. I decided to dedicate my life to teaching kids health and fitness.”
Over the years, Top Achievers has helped young kids learn discipline, dedication and commitment through sports and education programs. This fall, Top Achievers will be launching a new technological component to accommodate the needs of the growing job market.
“We’ll have workshops in partnership with Microsoft to help kids with coding,” Mann says. “We are also launching our esports program. Universities all over the nation are embracing the esports phenomenon. We will be partnering with Esports Stadium Arlington to help those who don’t play the traditional sports.”
Since launching 23 years ago, Top Achievers has helped hundreds of thousands of students create a path to their goals. Mann has found that 95 percent of his students went to college, and 90 percent of those students ultimately finished college.
“Without people building relationships with these students in our community, they wouldn’t have a path,” Mann says. “I smile because we help others that would be lost without our programs.”
Mann’s smile can be found on three different Lay’s varieties, which include Salt & Vinegar, Sea Salt Poppables and Fiery Habañero.
Also featured in the Smile with Lay’s campaign is Plano native Austin Mitchell. Mitchell is the founder of Purposefull Apparel. He is also an alumnus of Mann’s Top Achievers program.
Purposefull Apparel is a clothing line consisting of shirts and wristbands with inspirational messages. With each new product released, Mitchell shares a video online to accompany the product.
“This is really something God put in my heart to do,” Mitchell says. “I always want to lift people up, and the best way to do that is with words. Words can either make people feel bad or feel good. I want for my business to help people feel good.”
For each Purposefull Apparel product sold, Mitchell donates 10 percent of the proceeds to H.E.R.O.E.S., an organization committed to teaching individuals with disabilities essential life skills.
“So many things are beyond me,” Mitchell says. “I’m not living this life just for me, I’m living it for God, and to help other people be a positive light in the world. I feel like there’s more love in the world, but negativity and darkness is louder. What I want to do is make positivity louder.”
Mitchell’s smile can be found on Lay’s Original Wavy and Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Popper varieties.
For more information on Operation Smile, visit operationsmile.org