Carter Gentle of Farmington, ME is a special little 7-year-old.
He was born with a congenital heart defect to a family that really, really loves him.
During his seven years on earth, the kid has been through more than most of us ever will.
Bravery comes in all forms, sometimes it’s a 5-year-old girl raising money to help her disabled brother, sometimes it’s a wife who stays by her husband through sickness and in health, and sometimes it’s a little boy like Carter.
A few weeks ago, Carter underwent his twelfth open heart surgery.
That’s no easy thing for a family to endure, let alone a child. When the bandages were removed, Carter was saddened to see that his body was scarred.
Just minutes before the photo below was taken, in which Carter is smiling proudly, the kid was in tears.
“He went down to the bathroom to look in the mirror and he just started sobbing,” his father, Mark Gentle, told The Today Show.
Then Mark got the idea to take a photo of his tough little guy and post it to Facebook, hoping his friends would “like” it to cheer Carter up.
What happened next was incredible. The photograph went viral with 1.4 million likes!


This is Carter Gentle looking particularly dapper.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

He’s a regular 7-year-old boy with a special set of circumstances. Born with a congenital heart defect, just a few weeks ago he completed his 12th open heart surgery.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

Though Carter proved he was brave, unfortunately, when he saw the scars left from his surgery, Carter thought he’d be made fun of.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

“Carter took his bandages off this morning. He cried for 45 minutes when he saw his scars. He said that he’s afraid people will think he is ugly,” his father, Mark Gentle, wrote.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

“This was hard to hear as a parent. We told him that his scars are beautiful and make him look like a superhero,” he continued.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

Expecting just a few likes from friends, Mark and his wife, Sarah, were shocked when a few hundred turned into a few thousand — which then turned into a few million.

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

Mark turned on the alerts to his phone to get Carter excited: “He would look at me with these big eyes each time and say, ‘Dad, is that for me again?’ “

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Mark Gentle / Facebook

“His scars are what makes him him. They show everybody what he’s overcome and that he was stronger than the disease that tried to kill him. I’ve been able to explain to him that there’s a lot of people that have a lot of scars, and that you need to be proud of your scars,” said Gentle. I think we all could agree.

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