• Triathletes champion cleft advocacy

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    TEN triathletes are set to test their endurance and at the same time champion cleft advocacy in the coming Ironman 70. 3 Philippines slated on August 6 in Cebu City.

    Born with a cleft lip and palate, the 32-year old Smile Train beneficiary Rojan Pajarin will lead Team Empower in its quest not just for gold but also raise awareness about how everyone can change a life of a person with cleft lip or palate.

    “I am happy because being one of the beneficiaries of Smile Train, my life has changed. And now I want to share the blessings that this may bring to other persons with disabilities,” said Pajarin on Thursday in a news conference at Second Wind in Pasig City.

    In his pursuit of a better life, Pajarin was a working college student and was employed as a patient staff at the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation of the Philippines, where he underwent corrective surgery at the age of 22.

    Besides Pajarin, the other elite triathletes on board Team Empower are Arlene Yu, Gene Gerald Tiongco, Aron Bryan Villarosa, Jeremy Sarona, JR Mejia, Dennis Lustico, Roselle Bing Benares, Bernard Perez, and Lucas Lorenzo.

    “This race is different. I am more motivated because it comes with an obligation,” said swim coach Benares.

    Smile Train country director Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano said it is their first time to organize a group of passionate triathletes, who are cleft advocates themselves.

    “It is our thrust to help people with cleft lip and cleft palate. Smile Train provides training, funding, and resources to empower hospitals and local teams to provide free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive care in their communities because we want to create a better future one smile at a time,” said Coseteng-Flaviano.

    The charity project has already benefited close to 50,000 Filipinos since 2001. Every year, over 6,000 free-cleft surgeries are conducted in the Philippines.

    For details, contact Philippines@smiletrain.org or 09175287246.

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