My name is Nathan Abbott, a now twenty one year old who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate; fortunately, I was lucky enough to have been raised in an area of the world which was able to perform thorough reconstructive surgery in a successful attempt to reconstruct my broken smile.
My life through school was made difficult by many obstacles:the primary concern being how people viewed me, I was bullied frequently and as a result became extremely self-conscious about the way I looked. Yet the visual aspect was not my only hindrance, the nature of having a facial deformity made it difficult to speak and eat- interfering with life from not only a social circle, but a personal one as well.
To date I have had over 30 reconstructive operations and as a young adult can now appreciate how fortunate I really am. However I have also come to the realisation that what I suffered from is not isolated to parts of the world which can provide help, but less progressed parts as well. It made me question how some people can cope with such an ailment knowing that they likely will never be cured; which is why I have decided to support a charity which specialises in helping these people.
The charity that I support is: ‘Smile Train’, this charity provides resources to train doctors to perform cleft surgery for underprivileged children, as well as offering comprehensive care such as speech therapy and orthodontics to further their recovery.
I founded a charitable fundraising movement at the age of sixteen called 'Freestyle 4 Smile', aimed at raising funds and awareness for Smile Train and those going through difficulty. From inception, I have taken on major open water swimming challenges and created both annual open water swimming races and charity galas/ entertainment evenings.
To date, 'Freestyle 4 Smile' has raised well over £21,000, providing hundreds of smiles to cleft children in the developing world.
Next year, I will be undertaking a 60 mile swim around the Isle of Wight with a target of completed 20 miles a day for a consecutive three days. This will happen quite soon after one of my last operations and this swim will mark the final year of my surgery journey.
I hope that you will join me in changing the world, one smile at a time. (£150 = 1 Smile)
Find out more about my story on www.freestyle4smile.com or social media @Freestyle4smile Facebook/Instagram/Twitter