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'It shows people actually care': 'Wonder' movie has extra meaning for Issaquah, Wash. boy

Nathaniel Newman is seen at the screening. (KOMO photo)

ISSAQUAH, Wash. - The new movie "Wonder" tells the story of a boy born with Treacher Collins Syndrome - a rare genetic disorder.

And early Wednesday morning, students from Beaver Lake Middle School lined up for a special screening in Issaquah.

These kids have a special connection to the condition explored in the movie.

Nathaniel Newman is a classmate. He was born with Treacher Collins and his family was on the set of the movie during filming.

"I like it because it shows that people actually care, and it's really cool," Nathaniel says.

His dad, Russel Newman, says,"Today, sharing it with Nathaniel's middle school classmates is the culmination of what's been an incredible three-year journey."

The staff at Beaver Lake put Wednesday's screening together.

"We wanted to do something to honor him and celebrate him, and this seemed like a great way of doing it," said Lane Helgeson, dean of students.

Nathaniel says the fact that enough of his classmates showed up to fill two theaters is encouraging.

"It makes me feel like people are willing to learn nowadays," he says.

Classmate Ian O'Brien says, "Showing a little bit of how people with disabilities like that have coped with life."

Treacher Collins Syndrome is characterized by deformities of the ears, eyes, cheekbones, and chin. Complications may include breathing problems, problems seeing, cleft palate, and hearing loss. But those affected nearly always have a normal intelligence.

The film is getting great reviews.

Nathaniel and his family have already seen it four times before Wednesday. They say the film's powerful message is already changing the way people look at him.

"I like to know that because of this movie people are going to stop staring as much," Nathaniel says.

And that the greatest gift we all have to give, coming from within.

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