While his fellow Grade 7 students at St. James the Apostle Catholic Elementary School consider Dante to be just another student, his family consider him their “little angel” and Ben calls him “his best friend.”
Unlike his classmates, Dante suffers from a degenerative disorder called Christianson Syndrome, a condition also known as Angelman-like Syndrome.
Christianson Syndrome is a very rare condition caused by a mutation in a gene. People with the syndrome often have delayed development, an inability to speak, problems with balance and coordination, and difficulty standing or walking. Dante was born with Christianson and was one of the first individuals in the world to be diagnosed with it.
Ben, who has been Dante’s best friend since Grade 1, thought it would be a great idea to raise awareness about the syndrome to students and staff at St. James School. On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, the school held a Christianson Syndrome Awareness Day where they learned about the disorder after watching a PowerPoint presentation created by Ben, and donned blue shirts in a show of solidarity for their friend and classmate, Dante.
“Dante has a personality unlike any other,” says Ben. “His smile spreads joy to everywhere he is.”
Each student received a “blue” Christianson Awareness bracelet in honour of Dante.