Maximiliano: “Accept Yourself Every Moment of Your Life”

and “see everything that is beautiful”

Some of Maximiliano’s earliest memories are of being bullied in school. His cleft garbled his speech, and his classmates had no interest in trying to understand him.

But at home, he was surrounded with love. His mother started teaching him cueca dance when he was only six years old. On days when he felt down on himself, she cranked the music up and helped him shake his sadness out through his spurs.

Maximiliano as a baby, before cleft surgery
Maximiliano as a baby

The team at Fundación Gantz, his local Smile Train partner, helped, too. Far beyond timely surgeries, they also provided him with free, weekly dental care and specialized speech therapy after surgery.

Now 18, Maximiliano speaks clearly and with confidence. He spends his free time playing basketball and soccer with his many friends and was even elected class president! He credits those who have always been in his corner for his transformation, but he is also careful not to leave out the most important person — himself.

close-up of Maximiliano smiling
Maximiliano today

“I was able to overcome [bullying] thanks to my mother, my father, my teachers who supported me, and also by having confidence and accepting myself for who I am,” he said.

Modesty is accepting yourself as you are, including fairly acknowledging the value of your own hard work. It is also using the lessons you’ve learned the hard way to make things easier for those coming after you, and in this way, too, Maximiliano’s proud smile is the epitome of humility.

His ambition is to work to earn money for a few years, then travel to the US to watch basketball. From there, he will explore the world to “see everything that is beautiful.”

Maximiliano spinning a basketball on his finger
Future globetrotter

Naturally, he is dedicating this global victory lap to other children with clefts. If that is you, there’s something he wants you to know:

“This is for all the kids who are starting out or who are experiencing what it’s like to have a cleft lip or palate: You have to always accept yourself, never stop being who you are, trust yourself. Accept yourself in every moment of your life.”

Children with clefts are living their best lives thanks to generous people like you.