Eight years ago, Juanita met the love of her life, Everardo, at their company Christmas party. Three years later, they were overjoyed to learn Juanita was pregnant. But Juanita was also a bit nervous — both she and her younger brother were born with clefts and she knew her baby might also be born with the condition.
When Juanita went into labor, her excitement was greater than her fear. Gael was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate, but Juanita had learned from her own experiences. She was ready to help him overcome the challenges she knew he would face and was determined to help him succeed — no matter what.
Supported by Smile Train’s local medical partners, Juanita and Everardo were able to get Gael the essential comprehensive cleft care he needed at no cost. This included placing a small retainer in Gael’s mouth to help him feed properly, specialized nutritional support, surgery to repair his cleft lip and cleft palate, speech services, and ongoing emotional support.
Today, Gael is an energetic and healthy five-year-old. He enjoys going to the “little hospital” — his affectionate nickname for the emotional support workshop he regularly attends with peers also receiving cleft treatment.
The sessions focus on strengthening self-esteem, self-image, and developing social skills.
Gael loves superheroes and these workshop sessions make him feel like one. Ask him his favorite thing to do and he’ll proudly yell “Helping others!” He wants to be a policeman or fireman when he grows up so he can dedicate his life to helping others, just as Smile Train helped him.
To be a superhero to more children like Gael, please make a life-saving donation to Smile Train today.