Celebrities With Noonan Syndrome:Yorke Parkin, Lila Santilli, Drew Thortenson, And Much More

Celebrities With Noonan Syndrome;A rare genetic condition, Noonan Syndrome affects ~1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,500 individuals across the world. Its distinct characteristics include dysmorphic facial features, growth retardation, cardiovascular anomalies and a range of health issues. While it remains a rare disease, Noonan syndrome has been diagnosed in a number of famous people, contributing to increased visibility and understanding of the condition. This article opens a door into the lives of these people and tells a part of their story to illustrate their walk with this curse.

Yorke Parkin’s Journey

Meet Yorke Parkin, a vibrant 14-year-old enthusiast hailing from Revelstoke, whose story transcends the snow-capped slopes. Yorke navigates life with Noonan Syndrome, a genetic condition introducing unique hurdles. Yet, his zest for speed and the thrill of racing remains undiminished. Over eight years of skiing, he’s cultivated a profound passion for the sport, buoyed by the supportive Revelstoke Ski Club.

Yorke’s dedication reflects in his rigorous routine, hitting the slopes four times weekly and frequenting the gym three to four times. Beyond skiing, he eagerly engages in various Special Olympics events, showcasing unwavering perseverance and commitment. Recently, Yorke clinched victory at the Special Olympics BC Alpine Skiing Regional Qualifiers, earning his spot at the Provincial Games.

Beyond his prowess on skis, Yorke embodies inspiration, defying conventional expectations while embracing his abilities amidst Noonan Syndrome’s distinct challenges. His journey epitomizes the ethos of the Special Olympics: fostering connections and honoring individual narratives of resilience and triumph.

Lila Santilli’s Journey

Introducing Lila Santilli, a spirited four-year-old protagonist in the heartwarming book “Lila Lu and the things I love to do.” Within its pages, Lila’s vibrant zest for life shines through, despite the hurdles posed by Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic condition impacting various aspects of development. To aid her journey, Lila receives essential speech therapy and specialized services.

In the words of her mother, Laura Santilli, Lila’s identity transcends Noonan Syndrome; it merely shapes a part of her remarkable story. This cherished Christmas gift has swiftly become Lila’s treasured companion, spotlighting her indomitable spirit and fostering awareness about Noonan Syndrome. Additionally, a portion of the book’s proceeds goes towards supporting vital health initiatives for individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders and other genetic conditions.

Drew Thortenson’s Journey

Katie Thortenson, a dedicated mother from Chicago, shares the heartfelt journey of raising her son, Drew, who was diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome. Drew entered the world facing significant health challenges, including Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and mild Pulmonary Valve Stenosis.

During Drew’s initial three-month hospital stay, the Thortenson family delved deeper into understanding Noonan Syndrome. Seeking guidance, Katie turned to the Noonan Syndrome Foundation (NSF) for support and reliable information. Through attending NSF conferences and engaging with knowledgeable doctors and experienced parents, Katie gained invaluable insights into managing Drew’s condition.

Katie, now an active NSF Board member, emphasizes the critical need for raising awareness about Noonan Syndrome. She advocates for better understanding and medical knowledge to help families navigate the complexities of this condition. Her goal is to promote early diagnosis and education, ensuring that children like Drew receive timely and effective medical care.

Today, two-year-old Drew is undergoing growth hormone treatment and showing encouraging progress. His journey brings hope and a sense of normalcy to his family, inspiring others in similar situations.

Lizzie Armour’s Inspiring Story

Lizzie Armour, now in her 40s, talks about her experiences living with Noonan Syndrome Though she faced some of her first health problems — a congenital heart defect was discovered — Lizzie didn’t let anything slow her down, but she and her family went to great lengths to ensure she could keep living an active life. Avid cross-continental marathon runner Lizzie stands at 4 foot 11 inches and, though her late husband always said she was the size of a star, she is a tough, wiry and bright presence in her running group. Over the course of her childhood, Lizzie had delayed growth and other medical complications that kept her parents, Diana and Chris, in constant worry about Lizzies health. It was the relentless positivity and motivation of her parents that got her there For Lizzie, the progress she has made, is because of them. Lizzie went to the hospital several times throughout her young life, undergoing various diagnostics, and befuddling the physicians as to what was going on. However, her parents optimism remained high and Lizzie’s strength resurfaced.

Benjamin Cipriano’s Inspiring Journey

Sixteen-year-old Benjamin Cipriano, a dedicated student at El Segundo High School, has demonstrated remarkable resilience despite living with Noonan Syndrome. Despite missing two months of school for heart surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Ben maintained straight A’s, showcasing his academic dedication.

Ben underwent a challenging two-hour surgery to correct the narrowing above his aortic valve and valve leakage. During the procedure, doctors discovered he had only one coronary artery, a rare condition. Following the surgery, Ben faced four cardiac arrests but made an extraordinary recovery, exemplifying his strength and perseverance.

Living with Noonan Syndrome, which includes unique facial features and heart issues, Ben has faced significant challenges. Often misunderstood due to his appearance, Ben maintains a positive attitude and a sense of humor. His humor, combined with his determination, has been instrumental in overcoming life’s obstacles. He draws strength from his willpower and the support of Dr. Brandy Hattendorf, his cardiologist who diagnosed him four years ago.

Jakob-Anthony Handley’s Community Support

Thirteen-year-old Jakob-Anthony Handley from South Surrey has received heartwarming support from his community for an important upcoming medical appointment in Calgary. His mother, Katie Handley, sought assistance for travel expenses, and the community responded generously by donating bottles and cans, easing the financial burden and covering most of the gas costs.

Jakob-Anthony is preparing for a critical surgery to correct his droopy eyelid, a prominent symptom of Noonan Syndrome that, if untreated, could lead to vision problems and potential blindness. Noonan Syndrome also presents unique facial features, heart issues, blood clotting problems, and growth challenges.

Diagnosed at six months old when a geneticist became available, Jakob-Anthony and his family have faced numerous medical uncertainties. The community’s support has been invaluable, providing not just financial relief but also emotional encouragement as they anticipate more heart surgeries in the future.

Josiah Ives’ Unforgettable Experience

Five-year-old Josiah Ives from Indianapolis, who has Noonan Syndrome, recently experienced a dream come true at the 500 Festival Parade with race-car driver Josef Newgarden. Josiah was surprised the morning of the parade and got to ride with Newgarden, making the day incredibly special for the young racing enthusiast.

After the parade, Josiah returned home to find his bedroom transformed with a racing theme, thanks to the collaboration between Century 21 Real Estate, Easter Seals, and Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing. This thoughtful gesture included a personalized autograph on his upgraded race car bunk bed, creating lasting memories for Josiah.

A passionate racing fan, Josiah was thrilled to meet and high-five Josef Newgarden, highlighting the strong community support that surrounds him. This event not only brought immense joy to Josiah but also showcased the caring spirit of those working to make a positive impact in the lives of children with Noonan Syndrome.

Ben Stiller’s Triumph Over Adversity

The famous actor and comedian Ben Stiller was stabbed in the noon when he was 14 years old. Stiller, I told you he was a story I was going to tell from my perspective on yesterday, has been very open about his experience in interviews, feeling that he had all of those heart surgeries and learning disabilities because of this disease. Despite this, Stiller has gone on to have a very lucrative career as an actor, writer and director, proving that his condition has not immersed his life or taken a toll on his career within the show business.

Michaela DePrince’s Inspiring Ballet Career

When Michaela DePrince was 4 years old, a remarkable photo of her was published on the front page of the New York Times. Despite facing many hurdles like racial discrimination and her disability, DePrince has become, above all, a soloist in the Dutch National Ballet. She made it into the news and many documentaries that uncovered her stunning success.

Tim Burton’s Creative Legacy

Acclaimed director and producer Tim Burton has openly discussed his experiences growing up with Noonan Syndrome. He faced difficulties with social interactions and bullying due to his physical appearance. However, Burton found refuge in his passion for drawing, which eventually led him to a successful career in the arts. Known for his unique and imaginative style, Burton has directed iconic films such as “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” leaving a lasting impact on the film industry.

Gaten Matarazzo: Advocating for Awareness Through Stardom

Gaten Matarazzo exploded on our TV screens with “Stranger Things” on Netflix, and he has been using his voice to talk about cleidocranial dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder with which he was born. It also has the effect of abnormal bone and tooth formation – you know when baby flicks out the back molars; that is a delayed loss of baby teeth and soft spot closing as the skull grows.. For Gaten, he has opened up about having cleidocranial dysplasia, especially sharing about how he was bullied due to it in his past, via numerous interviews. By being so open about it he has brought it out into the open not only the struggles that come with living with it but has also created a feeling of “let’s not judge” among his fans. Hundreds more expressed appreciation for his advocacy, sharing they related to his openness and had found comfort and solace in the common denominator of their very relatable plight.

Kristin Chenoweth: Thriving in the Spotlight Despite Meniere’s Disease

Kristin Chenoweth — most popular for her roles on The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, and countless Broadway shows — has managed to do just that since being diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. This unusual condition, which affects the inner ear, causes ear congestion, hearing loss and is marked by recurrent bouts of vertigo. In the past, Chenoweth has spoken openly about her battle with Meniere’s disease, which has included managing a low-salt diet and sleeping on an incline to combat prolonged bouts of vertigo in order to get rest. Hardest has been sleep propped on an incline,” she said in an interview with Prevention magazine. And I literally can not lay flat as the position of my head affects the inner ear. That one has been a bummer, because I had two slipped disks in my neck and for that, I need to sleep flat. I am fighting 2 different things so.
Despite these challenges, which have sometimes caused her to miss performances, Chenoweth continues to pursue her passion for acting and singing. Her resilience and dedication serve as an inspiration to many, demonstrating that it’s possible to thrive professionally while managing a chronic condition.

Jimmy Kimmel: Balancing Comedy and Narcolepsy

Jimmy KimmelLate-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has openly spoken about living with narcolepsy, a neurological sleep disorder characterized by deeply powerful and uncontrollable sleep episodes or attacks that can strike anytime, anywhere. Kimmel has a mild version of the condition but has talked about the challenges of coping with it while working in a demanding environment as a writer and performer. Kimmel still brings this humor and wit he is known for to viewers every night despite these hurdles.

Sia: Confronting Graves’ Disease

SiaA singer of “Titanium” and “Chandelier” fame, Sia went public with Graves’ disease in 2010. This autoimmune disease affects the thyroid, and an enlarged thyroid causes hyperthyroidism, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness, fatigue, and bulging eyes. Her symptoms at times become so extreme that they are no longer manageable, and the singer must cancel tours and other public appearances, Sia added. Still one of the strongest voices in the industry, she has fought through the obstacles of her health.

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins: Overcoming Sickle Cell Disease

A well-documented health crisis has put a spotlight on the lifelong struggles of star Tionne Watkins, known as “T-Boz” in the top-selling trio TLC, with sickle cell disease (SCD). This is a genetic blood disease that causes unusually shaped red blood cells to form in the body which prevents oxygen from flowing throughout your body which can bring on symptoms like yellowing of the eyes and skin, anemia (lower than normal number of red blood cells), fatigue, or severe pain. In her memoir, “A Sick Life: TLC ‘n Me: Stories from On and Off the Stage,” T-Boz shares with us the highs and lows, highlight how she took on her illness while maintaining a grueling career. Looking back on her life, she said, “It’s a powerful word, ‘a sick life,’ ’cause I lived one. Complete: They told me I wouldnt make it to 30. T-Boz has nevertheless been an inspiration through her music and activism in the face of these grim predictions.

mily V. Gordon: Championing Awareness for CVID

Renowned writer Emily V. Gordon, who inspired the hit movie “The Big Sick,” has become a public ambassador for people with combined variable immunodeficiency (CVID), a rare immune disorder. This frequently requires regular immunoglobulin infusions to help fight back against bugs. Gordon has previously talked about her diagnosis, speaking to fans as well as heightening awareness in interview provided by the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF).

Marianna Palka: Confronting Huntington’s Disease

Netflix’s “Glow” actress Marianna Palka has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a fatal brain disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to mental decline. The film “The Lion’s Mouth Opens, which has won awards already, explores how the disease has affected her own life and those of her relatives, providing a heartfelt and unflinching portrayal of a harrowing illness.

Jennifer Arnold: Life After Cancer

Dr. Jennifer Arnold has courageously shared her struggle with stage 3 choriocarcinoma, a uncommon cancer, with viewers of TLC’s “The Little Couple.” Arnold’s experiences navigating diagnosis and therapy have encouraged numerous others facing similar hardships. She underscores prioritizing joy and impactful endeavors, emphasizing that “Following cancer, it’s critical to recollect that life is indeed brief, so we must emphasize what brings us happiness and importance to ourselves as well as those we care for.” Living meaningfully amongst loved ones in the time we’re given is Arnold’s inspired message of fortitude in the face of adversity.

Robin Roberts: Advocating for Bone Marrow Donation

Beloved “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts developed myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS) following her treatment for breast cancer. MDS interferes with the production of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, often necessitating a bone marrow transplant. Roberts has been a fervent advocate for bethematch.org, urging people to join the bone marrow donor registry. In a heartfelt ABC interview, she shared, “I will start chemotherapy in advance of a bone marrow transplant later this year. Bone marrow donors are scarce, especially for African-American women. I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, which greatly improves my chances for a cure. I encourage everyone to sign up on a donor registry like bethematch.org.”

George Clooney: Overcoming Bell’s Palsy

Dr. Jennifer Arnold, the renowned physician profiled on TLC’s documentary series “The Little Couple,” has courageously chronicled her rigorous fight against an uncommon form of cancer known as stage 3 choriocarcinoma. Arnold’s harrowing yet uplifting experience navigating diagnosis and treatment continues to inspire multitudes in their own health struggles. Having stared down life’s brevity, she stresses maximizing contentment and purpose-driven activities. As Arnold remarks, “Life after cancer means recollecting that life is indeed transient, compelling us to prioritize what nourishes our spirit and what matters most to us and our loved ones.”

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Final Words

Noonan Syndrome is a rare genetic condition affecting approximately 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,500 individuals globally. It presents unique challenges, including distinct facial features, growth delays, and cardiovascular issues. Through the stories of Yorke Parkin, Lila Santilli, Drew Thortenson, Lizzie Armour, Benjamin Cipriano, Jakob-Anthony Handley, Josiah Ives, and other notable figures, we gain insight into the resilience and strength of those living with this condition. Their experiences highlight the importance of awareness, early diagnosis, and community support. These individuals continue to inspire by overcoming adversity and advocating for better understanding and treatment of Noonan Syndrome.

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