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11 People Who Prove There’s More to Williams Syndrome Than Challenges

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Williams syndrome is a genetic condition affecting 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. It may come with heart and kidney complications, along with developmental delays and other challenges of the brain and body.

But Williams syndrome is more than a list of symptoms. Many people with the condition are known to have a wonderful personality, an affinity for music and some extraordinary gifts. We also know each person with Williams syndrome is entirely unique. And so, The Mighty and Williams Syndrome Association asked our Facebook communities this question: How does your child exemplify the unique challenges and extraordinary gifts of Williams syndrome

The responses? What no doctor is likely to tell you. Meet these 11 unique faces of Williams syndrome:

Naftali, 5

“His teacher told me at the most recent conference that he’s the most kind and empathetic child she’s ever taught. Everyone who knows him loves him. He’s regularly dubbed the ‘mayor’ of school, camp, et cetera. He loves musical instruments and horseback riding.” — Tziri Lamm


Abi, 12

“She’s on a bowling team that meets every Friday. There’s more talking and hugging than bowling done. Her favorite friend at the bowling alley is a 95-year-old man. He says she makes getting up on Friday mornings worth it because he knows he gets to see her. She loves unconditionally and brightens everyone’s day with her words of encouragement. Abi will tell you, ‘I have Williams Syndrome and that makes me awesome!’” — Noel Clayton


Christian, 20, with his pal Kekoa

“He goes to transition school. He loves burgers, tacos and sushi. He loves his Chargers football team and wrestling. He always looks forward to Halloween ‘cause he has a collection of masks he shares. He’s pretty much the mayor of our neighborhood ‘cause everyone knows him. He loves people and puts a smile on them every time he says hi.” — Nelson Villanueva


Sophia, 8

“[She] loves to dance, sing and socialize. Every day is a day to touch a stranger’s heart with kindness. She will say hello to everyone and ask them how their day is going. She also seeks out someone who is in a wheelchair or is nonverbal and says hello. Wherever we go, someone knows Sophia. She’s taught me kindness, patience and love.” — Cecilia Spellman


Gabe, 8

“[He] has the most genuine personality! Just this morning as he was getting out of the car at school there was a new car line helper. He greeted her with an exuberant ‘Hello! Um, what’s your name?’ She responded and then he proceeded to reply enthusiastically, ‘I love you, Mrs. ___!” — Kristi Kay Smith


Clayton, 18

“He’s very involved in school. He’s in the band, choir, yearbook staff, outdoor club, FCA and he’s the girls’ volleyball manager. He was voted most unforgettable by the senior class. He was runner-up on the homecoming court, and he’s going to prom next week. He will be singing the national anthem at graduation. Clayton also has a part-time job and works two days a week. His favorite quote is ‘I love being me.’ He truly is an inspiration to everyone he meets.” — Stella Wilson Beard


Jaurice, 2

“My son is so full of life. He meets people every day with a smile. He is always happy and loves music. The teachers and parents at his daycare say he’s just the sweetest, most happiest baby they’ve ever seen. Everybody loves him.” — Nicole ChocolateDiva Johnson


Terryn, 21

“She sees nothing but good in this old world. For the last seven months she’s been my nurse since I’ve been in the last stages of avascular necrosis of both my hips. She puts others first and never hesitates to do so. Her extraordinary gift and unique challenge is one word and that word is love.” — Belinda Turner Lemen


Cameron, 5

“Every day he reminds me life is wonderful. I have a lot of bad days. He will cheer up every one of those days in a heartbeat. His kindness and overwhelming true love just takes over the whole house and those who are in it. He touches in a positive way anyone who comes near. I could never even begin to picture life without him and his beautiful personality. If more people in the world could just be a little bit like him, the world would be a better place. He’s truly a gift. He is my sunshine!” — Danielle Cauvin


Sophie, 6

“She’s sweet and charming with a dash of sass. To know her is to love her. She teaches those around her what living is all about: having fun, smiling and rolling with the punches no matter how difficult things can get. She’s fully included in kindergarten and is the one of the most popular students in the school. To Sophie, there are no strangers; everyone is a friend. She’s kind, compassionate and really the light of our lives.” — Erin Kaplan Rupolo


Jack, 2

“[People with Williams syndrome] could change the world.” — Dawn Lemons-Augustyniak


Originally published: May 5, 2015
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