Touching lives... one smile at a time


February 12, 2024

Erik Gjovik

Eighteen-year-old Alex VanRay of rural Pingree is pictured with his parents, mother Jane, and father Matt. At 22 months of age, Alex was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome (AS), caused by a deletion on the 15th chromosome during fetal growth. Persons with AS display specific behaviors, such as severe developmental delays, a smiling, happy demeanor, and little to no functional speech.

Even without the use of language, Alex VanRay can "say" more with a smile, hug and an exuberant yell than one could possibly imagine.

The son of Matt and Jane VanRay of rural Pingree can't help being the gifted dispenser of joy that he is.

"Whether it's at a ball game, at church or at the grocery store, Alex seems to seek people out and give them a wave, laugh or big hug," says Jane, his mom. "...

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