TODAY

TODAY   |  November 01, 2013

NFL player Chris Myers brings awareness to birth defects

Houston Texans center Chris Myers, whose 8-year-old son was born with a cleft palate, visits TODAY to raise awareness about birth defects.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> so when the texans take on the colts this sunday, chris myers will have one very special fan watching. his baby son.

>> when the 8 month old smiles it's as good as anything that can happen on the field. he was born with a cleft palate . now myers and his wife are going the extra yard to spread the word about the condition.

>> reporter: chris myers may be the pro bowl center for the houston texans but the center of his world is his family. for awhile it was his wife jenny and two daughters and last year the couple learned they would be having a son.

>> it's a different feeling when you find out you're having a little boy .

>> but at jenny's 20 week ultrasound something looked different.

>> it was devastating to be honest.

>> reporter: the little boy would be born with a bilateral cleft. the lips and soft palate of the roof of the mouth don't fuse together. in some cases it's genetic. in others like the myers , there's no clear cause and it's not just cosmetic.

>> they're unable to seal and purse their lips which effects their feeding and their ability to speak.

>> reporter: making those first few days of his life scary.

>> i had a little break down in the nicu when he having to get tubes on and off and him having to be fed through it.

>> reporter: they took to the internet and learned they weren't alone. they found a whole community of cleft parents like britney and her daughter adley.

>> they need to know it's happened. it's nothing the kid versus done. mostly for moms to know it's going to be okay. it's a struggle in the beginning but we'll get through it.

>> reporter: support helped them learn how to use a retainer-like device to reshape his lips and provided hope during the first of several surgeries that will likely continue. chris and jenny also paid that support forward visiting other children in the hospital. the girls and their cousins made bracelets to raise money for operation smile which provides cleft surgeries for underprivileged kids around the world. chris reached out to his texan's teammates.

>> i thought it was my part to be able to say, listen, this is what my son is going to have and i want you guys to understand that. it's been complete support from the get-go.

>> reporter: and jenny with other moms and the same struggles she had.

>> jenny saw me crying in the waiting room and came up to me and told me it's going to be okay. when someone offers help to you, it's like you're not alone.

>> reporter: the myers witnessed stairs from people that don't understand.

>> he has a scar on his lip. that's all he's going to have.

>> reporter: they have all learned to do exactly what he does, smile. because they know there's a whole team supporting their little guy. for today, kristen dahlgren, nbc news, houston.

>> his prognosis is great. his lip is already prepared. they'll do another round of surgery in a few weeks and he'll have to have more surgeries as he grows but eventually it will be a small scar. you see some of the kids from operation smile and the smile train , it's amazing the work he does.

>> he lights up.

>> incredible.

>> the taexans and the colts sunday night football night in