Jono Lancaster was born with a rare genetic condition that has altered the bone structure in his face. Despite his different appearance, Jono was a completely normal and lovable child.
However, his birth parents couldn’t see past Jono’s condition to discover what an amazing child they had. Jono’s birth parents ended up abandoning him only 36 hours after he was born. Since then, Jono has had to face a lot of hate and cruelty from a world of people who have trouble seeing past appearances.
Jono’s adoptive mother, Jean, immediately fell in love with the child when she saw him. She refused to believe that anyone would abandon the little boy, so she worked with Social Services to try and reconnect Jono to his birth parents. But the birth parents didn’t want the same thing.
Jono’s condition, Treacher Collins syndrome, is characterized by deformities of the eyes, cheekbones, ears, and chin. Treacher Collins syndrome varies in severity and Jono considers himself to be one of the lucky ones. The syndrome has really only affected parts of his facial structure but he knows others who can’t even eat or speak on their own.
Jono doesn’t have any cheekbones, so his eyes droop downwards. He also has very small ears, which he admits he has learned to appreciate because they don’t get cold as easily as others’ ears. However, he does need hearing aids in order to hear normally.
Jono was bullied constantly in school. He shares that his classmates would pull their eyes down to mimic his own and they would run away from him, screaming that they would catch his disease if they got too close. The bullying didn’t stop when he got older. Working as a bartender, Jono would notice customers laughing at his face.
It wasn’t until one day that a particular customer shared a laugh with him instead of laughing at him like everyone else that Jono started to gain some hope. He realized that there are good people out there and that he could have a good, happy life if he wanted one.
Jono is now 32 years old and admits that changing his attitude was the best thing he could have done for himself. He now finally fully accepts his condition and chooses to live life focusing on the positive.
Jono now works to inspire children with similar conditions. He also works as a inspirational teacher, sharing information about himself and his condition with others in hopes that he can help people be more understanding and compassionate.
Jono tells people, “My parents still want nothing to do with me. What’s changed is my attitude, and that’s what’s so powerful.”
Jono has found himself, his calling, and real love. He shares much of his life with his long-term girlfriend, Laura. He also tries to constantly remind people about the power of positive thinking. He shares, “My attitude was more disabling than anything. With the right attitude, you can achieve anything.”