The following is a letter that actor Stacy Keach,
Honorary Chairman of the Cleft Palate Foundation,
sent recently to a young boy who has a cleft.

Published at cleftAdvocate with permission of the author.


April 29, 2002


Dear Gregory,

Your Dad knows my Dad and my Dad told me that you and I have something in common, and I wanted to write to you to let you know that I was thinking about you and wondering how you were doing?

I was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate, too.  When I was young, kids used to tease me a lot, but as I got older that began to go away.  I think maybe that's because I got interested in sports and doing well in school.  I also used to try out for school plays, because I liked to be other people, and I guess that's why I became an actor. 

When I first started out acting, I was told that because I had a "harelip" (I don't like it when people use that term, but lots of people just don't know any better), and because I had a scar, I would most likely have to have more plastic surgery if I was really serious about wanting to be an actor and work in front of cameras.  Well, I decided not to, and worked on improving my speech as much as I could, and later discovered that I could always grow a mustache if I wanted to hide my scar, depending on the character I was playing. 

Everyone who is born with what we have has to find his or her own way of "presenting themselves to the world".  As you're only 11, you don't have to concern yourself with that right now.

The important thing for you to know is that you can do whatever you want to do in this life - so, work towards your dreams, and if you work hard and don't give up, you can achieve just about anything your heart desires.  But it's up to you to do the hard work.  Nobody else can do that for you, not your parents, or your teachers, or your coaches, just you, Gregory.

I hope you'll keep in touch with me and let me know how you're doing, and I wish you the best of luck in everything you do.

Your pal,

Stacy Keach

Learn more about Stacy Keach!
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