Jono Lancaster, a U.K. man famous for having a genetic disorder that prevents the facial bones from developing, visited Australia in November in an effort to inspire children with the same Treacher Collins syndrome.
“I would have loved to have met somebody like myself when I was younger,” Lancaster said. “Somebody who had got a job, got a partner and said to me ‘these are the things you can do, you can achieve.’”
Lancaster added that growing up he often thought about people who were lucky enough to win the lottery or become doctors and lawyers. He would compare himself to those in luckier situations.
Lancaster arrived in Mannum to meet 2-year-old Zachary Walton, who also lives with the same incurable condition. When the two met, Zachary’s mother Sarah Walton was fighting to have government funding reinstated for a nurse who could care for Zachary one day a week. Luckily, she was later told the program would contine.
Walton noted that without Lancaster’s visit and publicity surrounding it, the government wouldn’t have continued the program so soon.
“[Lancaster] is a celebrity to us,” Walton said. “He’s a huge inspiration.”
Lancaster has been the subject of multiple documentaries about his condition. He’s currently in Australia on a three-week tour aimed at educating the public about the little-known disease.
Next year, Zachary will go to the Women's and Children's Australian Craniofacial Unit to undergo several operations. His jaw will be broken there in the hopes that he will breathe better.