Virginia Beach, Va. (WAVY) — A fifth-grader in Virginia Beach is inspiring young children in Hampton Roads and beyond with a simple smile.
Brandon Prater is a resilient 10-year-old, born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. He considers himself ordinary and loves telling jokes with friends.
However, he does not take smiling for granted, since he’s undergone 36 surgeries for his cleft palate and cleft lip.
Prater was born with condition. His parents adopted him from China when he was one-year-old.
“It all started when I was in China and I was born with a clef lip and clef palate. I was put in an orphanage and soon my parents from America found me on the web,” said Prater. “If I was still in China, I probably wouldn’t have the surgery.”
Prater’s fellow students at John B. Dey Elementary School want to give back and help other kids born with a similar facial difference.
On Saturday, Prater will participate in the 12th Annual Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile to help raise awareness and funds for children born with a cleft condition.
“Happiness is the best thing in the world,” said Prater. “I’m happy that I’ve had all the surgeries so that I can smile.”
Operation Smile has provided thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities.
Pete Hansen works with Operation Smile and calls Prater, a true hero.
“Brandon is showing that he’s a hero and showing all of the attributes of courage, kindness and love without any expectation of anything return,” Hansen tells 10 On Your Side.
According to Operation Smile, Prater will be joined by 5,000 other elementary school students on Final Mile race day to run down the boardwalk at the Oceanfront.
Prater was chosen by the Operation Smile Student Programs staff to be a VIP runner, which means he will be able to start at the front of the race and take part in the festivities on the main stage before the run.
“I like being a leader and helping others,” said Prater. “Just ’cause I have a scar doesn’t mean I’m different. We are all created equal.”
You can join him and others at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16. Final Mile runners will begin the race at 31st Street at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.