Run for Smiles: Resilient Elementary School Student Born With a Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Teams Up With Operation Smile to Help Other Children Gain a New Smile

Thursday, March 21, 2019 Child Health News
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Brandon Prater is a 10-year-old with an amazing story. He has endured 36 surgeries because he was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Now, he is working to raise awareness and funds for Operation Smile to help children like him receive free surgeries.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., March 21, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Brandon Prater considers himself

an ordinary 10-year-old. "I like running with my dad, playing basketball and video games," said Prater. However, the fifth grader has gone through something quite extraordinary, "I've had 36 surgeries," he added.

Brandon was born with a tear in the roof of his mouth and lip – known as a cleft palate and cleft lip. "I don't let my surgeries stop me from doing anything I like to do," said Prater. Brandon's parents, Nicole and Adam, saw that determination when they adopted him from China when he was 1 year old.

"I remember the first picture we saw of Brandon, it was before he had his first two surgeries on his cleft lip and cleft palate in China," said Nicole Prater. "He was so cute! I remember crying and knowing immediately he was meant to be a part of our family," she added.

Now, the John B. Dey Elementary school student wants to give back and help other kids born with a similar facial difference. This month, Brandon participated in the 12th Annual Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile on March 16 to help raise awareness and funds for children born with a cleft condition. Brandon raised over $400 for Operation Smile while getting ready for the Final Mile.

"I wanted to join my Operation Smile club and run in the Final Mile because I wanted to help other kids like me to get their surgery so they can have a great smile too," said Brandon.

Brandon was joined by 5,000 other elementary school students on Final Mile race day to run down the Virginia Beach boardwalk. He was chosen by the Operation Smile Student Programs staff to be a VIP runner, which meant he started at the front of the race and took part in the festivities on main stage before the run.

"The Final Mile is a fun way to get the local elementary schools involved and excited about helping children their age who were born with a facial difference. The race helps to bring awareness to the Hampton Roads area about Operation Smile and the children we help around the world," said Jennifer Krzewinski, associate vice president of Student Programs.

The Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile is the culmination of an ongoing run/walk program for students to promote lifelong fitness. Students participating in the Final Mile have run/walked 25.2 miles at school. On race day, students completed the "Final Mile" of their 26.2-mile marathon. Many student participants also raise funds for Operation Smile. For more information, visit the Final Mile page:

As for Brandon, he's looking forward to race day next year. "It's going to be so much fun," he said.

About the Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile J&A Racing in partnership with Operation Smile is pleased to host the 2019 Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile. This will mark the 12th year of the partnership, which has brought Miles of Smiles to Hampton Roads. Students are encouraged to run at school and at home in the weeks preceding the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend to accumulate 25.2 total miles and then complete the "final mile" of their 26.2 mile marathon on race day, which is March 16, 2019. In addition to the mission of keeping students active, this program also encourages children helping children, as students are educated about the mission of Operation Smile, which is to provide access to safe surgery around the world.

About Operation Smile Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it's needed most. As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


SOURCE Operation Smile

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