Jono Lancaster was abandoned by his parents when he was 36 hours old when they learned that he was born with a rare genetic disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome.
Children born with Treacher Collins syndrome are about one in 50,000 and “typical physical features include downward-slanting eyes, micrognathia (a small lower jaw), conductive hearing loss, underdeveloped zygoma, drooping part of the lateral lower eyelids, and malformed or absent ears.”
Due to his condition, he was bullied growing up, was often depressed about his life and lashed out. Now, Lancaster makes it his life’s work to be an inspiration to kids around the world with the same disorder.
“I was desperate to have friends, I’d do anything. I had no confidence. I’d buy lots of sweets and give them to the other kids so that they’d like me,” he told BBC a few years back. “I set a firework off in class, I got up to no good. It was quite often alcohol related, I got quite a bad reputation amongst other mums and teachers.”
“Doctors always asked if I wanted corrective surgery… to get my cheek bones built up, my teeth straightened or my jaw broken and realigned, but despite how depressed I got I thought ‘God made me like this,'” he also told BBC. “I’m glad I didn’t choose anything. I’m proud of who I am. And Treacher Collins made me who I am today.”
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to be proud of the way I look,” Lancaster said. “I love the way I look and I love being me.”