Jono Lancaster suffers from Treacher Collins syndrome, but has become incredibly influential for educating and inspiring others who are also affected by the rare genetic disorder. While on his nationwide tour, Lancaster spent three days with a 2-year-old who considers him to be a real-life hero.
Treacher Collins syndrome, which occurs in about one in 50,000 births in Europe, prevents craniofacial features from developing properly. While it took over two decades for Lancaster to come to terms with his genetic disorder, he now uses it to inspire others who are affected by it.
2-year-old Zackary Walton, who also has Treacher Collins syndrome, idolizes Lancaster, which prompted his mother to contact him to see if he would visit her son. “Jono is a very important person to our family,” Mrs. Walton told The Daily Mail. “Not only is he a huge celebrity and a hero to us but to have the same condition as our son and to have such a positive attitude is very inspiring.”
Jono was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Zackary and spent three days with him and his family in Mannum, Australia. “I would have loved to have met somebody like myself when I was younger,” Lancaster told Adelaide Now. “Somebody who had got a job, got a partner and said to me ‘these are the things you can do, you can achieve.’”
With Zackary Walton beginning kindergarten, his mother, Sarah, has always feared that he wouldn’t be accepted at school. However, Jono Lancaster has been using his genetic disorder to create awareness and educate others by touring to different schools. “It makes me feel relieved,” Walton told The Daily Mail. “It gives me home that my son can grow up to be a happy man.”
Lancaster has been the subject of multiple documentaries surrounding his condition and continually makes the effort to meet with children who suffer from the same genetic disorder. Considering how rare Treacher Collins syndrome is, Jono felt incredibly alone growing up and dealing with it on his own. However, now Lancaster wants to make sure that no one else suffering from the syndrome feels the same way he did. He wants children to know they are capable of achieving anything.
According to Sarah, there was an instant bond between Zackary and Jono when they met for the first time. “Zac is quite shy and doesn’t warm up to anyone easily but for some reason, I don’t know what it was, he connected with Jono,” she said. While Zackary still has to undergo some medical hurdles, Sarah says that Jono’s visit left a huge impact on not just her son but her entire family.