top of page

Our Story

From Premature Birth to Real-Life Wonder

2000 - 2012 (Surgeries 1- 26)

Our journey started with Peter's Birth in October 2000.  He was born at 30 weeks and diagnosed with Goldenhar Syndrome.  His Mom, Dede, kept a daily journal to update family and friends.  This became known as "Pete's Diary" during the 102 days he was in the NICU.

The book Wonder by R. J. Palacio was published in 2012.  It's about a boy with a craniofacial syndrome and his struggles starting a new school. Peter read the book and felt that the fictional character, Auggie, was a hero he could look up to.

In March 2013, Peter brought Auggie to life during a staged reading of excerpts hosted by Santa Monica Public Library. Dede and Peter were also invited to speak at a school with students who had recently read the book. 

Peter Dankelson's Wonder Story

Peter Dankelson's Wonder Story

Play Video

Becoming a Motivational Speaker

2013 - 2018 (Surgeries 27-28)

As Wonder became part of many 5th-6th grade curriculums, Dede and Peter received invitations to speak at more schools.  They worked with Children's Craniofacial Association to champion the #ChooseKind movement inspired by the book.  From 2012-2018, the two spoke with over 50,000 students about the importance of inclusion and kindness.

Wonder's popularity peaked in 2017 with the release of the movie starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, and Owen Wilson.  Our family was invited to visit the set during filming, and we attended the world premiere in Hollywood.