Craniofacial Clinic patients attend screening of Wonder

Because of the complexity of conditions seen at Texas Children’s, many patients and families view the health system and its staff as a family that supports them both inside and outside the hospital. That relationship was on full display November 15 when several patients of the Texas Children’s Craniofacial Clinic were given the opportunity to attend a free, early screening of the movie, Wonder.

Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. Based on the New York Times bestseller, the film stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay.

“We feel that this screening was a wonderful opportunity to highlight the courage displayed by so many of the children that we help treat every day,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, chief of plastic surgery and associate surgeon-in-chief for clinical affairs at Texas Children’s. “And it reinforces the importance of seeing things through others’ point of view. Finally, we thought it was a great opportunity for everyone to attend a real movie premiere.”

The premiere was sponsored by members of the Children’s Craniofacial Association and Texas Children’s Craniofacial Clinic team, which treats and researches complex craniofacial differences such as Treacher Collins Syndrome, the one highlighted in Wonder.

Held at AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale Road in Houston, the screening of the movie began with patients and families walking down a red carpet and posing for photographs before making their way to the theater. The event ended with comments from two Craniofacial Clinic patients and their family members.

Grace Anto, a 10-year-old Craniofacial Clinic patient, said she could relate to much of what August, the lead character in the movie, went through.

“I have felt like Auggie,” she said. “Every time I make a new friend, it’s like a new beginning.”

Twelve-year-old Lance Dromgoole, another Craniofacial Clinic patient, agreed and said his favorite part of the movie was when August and Jack became friends.

“That was definitely the best,” he said.

Like the lead character in Wonder, Lance and Grace have had multiple surgeries to correct their craniofacial differences. Grace has had 10 surgeries and Lance has undergone 38. Some of those procedures helped Lance breathe better and others gave him actual ears, something he was born without.

Lance’s grandmother, Kathy Dromgoole, said she will never forget the first time Lance was able to put on sunglasses and that she will forever be grateful for the care her grandson has received at Texas Children’s. Regarding the movie, she said she hopes Wonder shows people that children with craniofacial differences are normal kids and that they deserve to be treated as such.

Grace’s mother, Lynn Anto, said the movie beautifully illustrates the power of kindness and how greatly it is needed people’s lives.

“Everyone is going through something,” she said. “And everyone could use a little kindness.”

Athena Krasnosky, a nurse practitioner with the Craniofacial Clinic and one of the organizers of the screening, told last week’s audience that Texas Children’s sees itself and its patients and families as one big happy family, and that everyone within the Craniofacial Clinic was thrilled to have been able to watch such a meaningful film together.

“We are so glad to have been able see this movie together tonight as a family,” she said. “We hope you enjoyed it.”

Haley Streff, a genetic counselor with Texas Children’s and another organizer of the movie screening, echoed Krasnosky’s comments and said the moving screening was a powerful experience.

“All of us here have a connection to someone with a craniofacial difference,” she said. “We all can relate in one way or another to what just happened on that movie screen.”