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Former Member

AboutFace is a support and information network for people with facial differences and their families. SAP is a sponsor of AboutFace. AboutFace now has a new member, Chrise Rhame on the board of directors.  Chris was very interesting person to meet; one of my favourite interviews. Chris Rhame is the Vice-President of SAP in Toronto, Canada. He is a very charming and interesting man.

As an interviewer, I was very nervous. When you interview an important business person it can be quite intimidating.  When I walked in the door Chris quickly put me at ease; he was the friendliest and kindest person and very easy to talk to. Chris’s personality conveys the way he conducts business. He cares more about the way a person thinks. In the middle of our conversation he stopped and said, “Oh, you are left handed!” He likes people who are different and who think creatively.

Creative and different thinkers open a whole window of opportunities. People who are autistic, for example look at the world in a completely different way. This is similar with people who are non-verbal, or with people like myself who have a facial difference.  People with significant psychical and mental differences always have to adapt in order to be successful in today’s society.  They are used to doing things differently and have a totally different perspective on many things.

My facial difference is a Cleft Lip and a Cleft Palate. The word cleft means a split. So that means I was born with a split in my upper lip and in the roof of my mouth. This Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate affects my breathing, speech, running abilities and more. In order for me to work, communicate with others and be successful in life I needed to adapt. I needed to gain tools and strategies so I could improve my speech, run better and breathe differently.  I have been through countless surgeries to assist the functionality of my body. Since I am used to adapting to be successful in today’s society I bring my knowledge to others.

AboutFace has been a big part of my life and a big tool to help me achieve many great things in my life. When you have a significant difference that many others in the world don’t have, you tend to feel negative towards yourself. For some people they feel like they don’t have great abilities or a great drive to pursue their dreams because the world looks at them and says, “No” or, “I’m sorry we can’t help you.”  AboutFace runs programs for affected individuals. They run Camp Trailblazers and annual camps across Canada for affected youth, ages 10-18. The Leadership Expedition for ages 18-24 and the adult retreat ages 22 plus. They also have many programs such as family days and conference call programs for people who can’t afford to attend camp.

The camp program really helps to builds a camper’s self-esteem. They are able to share stories and voice their concerns without feeling judged. AboutFace offers a safe environment for kids with Facial differences to just to be kids.  I have had the pleasure of being a camper at each of the three levels of camps that AboutFace offers.  One of the many things that AboutFace has taught me was that you are special just the way you are, and there is a reason that you were born with a difference.

With the tools and knowledge I have gained with AboutFace, as well as my personal life experiences, I have been able to look at almost any situation and come up with a different solution on how to improve situations or eliminate problems. I work with people with special needs and the knowledge that I have been able to convey to them has proven to be helpful. Whenever I need to fix or address a situation I look at what my clients needs are. Similarly, that is how both SAP and AboutFace run their organizations.

It’s so important when addressing an individual or a single business and  determining what their needs are in order to make them successful. SAP does exactly that. We need to make the whole of society successful; not just bring people or businesses up to the bare minimum standard.  The importance of making everyone excel is vital in the business world.  In a world where people with facial differences and disabilities can be equal along with everyone else the whole world would benefit.  SAP has started creating the equal world by hiring autistic people because they think differently. If we hired all kinds of differently abled people we could use everyone’s skills for the benefit of all instead of saying, “Oh, sorry we can’t accommodate you.” Everyone has a purpose and SAP has realized that.