December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Boy turns hardship into his own book

wheres red book.jpg

Garrett Mitchell appears to be like any other 11-year-old boy. He’s a wrestler and a football player. Video games are his life.

There is one thing, however, that sets him apart from other boys his age. Mitchell is a published author.

Garrett, of Elyria, was born with a cleft lip and has undergone at least 10 different surgeries to correct his condition.

His experiences led him to write a book for children titled “Where’s Red?”

“My school has a young-author’s program that teaches us how to write our own stories,” Garrett said. “That’s where I got the idea to write about my own experience with cleft lip.”

The book is about a red crayon that has imperfections and stands out from all of the other crayons. The crayon is upset and broken. By the end of the book the red crayon realizes that despite his imperfections he is no less important than anyone else.

Cleft lip and palate are malformations that occur early in pregnancy. Clefting results when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly.

Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon Dr. Francis Papay took bone marrow from Mitchell’s hip to fix his gums.

Papay has been Garrett’s surgeon his entire life.

“We are so grateful to Dr. Papay,” said JoEllen Mitchell, Garrett’s mother. “He’s been so wonderful to Garrett through all of his surgeries.”

Garrett wanted to thank Papay. After his book was published, Garrett took the book to Papay and presented it to him in person.

“Receiving this book was the greatest thank-you a surgeon can receive,” Papay said. “Garrett is such a bright boy and I’m so proud of him.”

Garrett was shocked at how popular his book became.

“I started out just wanting to write a book with my mom,” Mitchell said. “But before I knew it all of our friends and family were asking for copies of it!”

Garrett’s mom, JoEllen, drew all of the illustrations for the book.

“Creating this book together has been such a great experience for me and Garrett,” JoEllen said. “This is going to be something we can look back on proudly.”

Contact Christina Graw at 329-7144 or cgraw@chroniclet.com.