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Mills refuses to be subdued by debilitating health condition

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Elizabeth City resident Adoria Mills, 26, was diagnosed at age 15 with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by medical problems that include cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges.

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By Anna Goodwin McCarthy
Columnist

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Flashing her smile, Adoria Mills talks about how she hopes her story can help others overcome obstacles in their lives.

One of Mills’ favorite foods is s'mores, but up until recently the 26-year-old wasn’t always able to enjoy the delicious dessert of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers.

Mills has suffered digestive problems and endured developmental issues since birth. At 15, she was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that, according to the Williams Syndrome Association website, affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide and about 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States.

The syndrome is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges. It’s caused, according to the Williams association website, by the “spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on chromosome #7,” which occurs “in either the egg or the sperm used to form the child.”

Mills and her family sought medical care for her condition, traveling to hospitals and visiting physician offices. However, it was not until within the last few years that they were finally able to find a surgeon in Elizabeth City who was able to help her.

Mills underwent four surgeries in two years to improve her digestive system. The operations required her to spend more than nine weeks in the hospital.

“I love the fact that she is a fighter,” said Tonia Bennett, Mills’ mother. “She pulled through it all.”

“We are very proud of her, and she has been through a lot,” added Mills’ father, Lin Bennett. “Even when she was in the hospital, she was smiling. She’s an inspiration.”

Mills said it was her faith that guided her through her surgeries.

“I prayed,” said Mills. “I felt like he answered my prayers.”

Mills’ smile never wavered, and now she is finding joy in one of her favorite things: food. She enjoys watching the “Food Network” and is a fan of the network’s star hosts Bobby Flay and Ree Drummond, who hosts a show called “The Pioneer Woman.”

“I would like to ask him (Bobby Flay) some questions, like, ‘what do you cook in your own home?’” Mills said.

Mills moved from her parents’ home in Elizabeth City to a nearby residential placement center in November. Even though it’s only a few blocks away, Mills has found independence in her new home.

“This has been really good for Adoria,” Tonia says.

Mills said she recently was able to share her passion for food by cooking a meal of chicken nuggets, string beans and biscuits for the center’s other residents. She said her housemates liked the meal she prepared.

Decorating her new room, Mills’ framed artwork of colorful flowers and blue skies hangs from the wall.

Besides food and art, Mills is fond of animals and once had a pet guinea pig. She said her dream job would be to work either at The Cheesecake Factory or at a pet store.

“One of the characteristics of people with Williams syndrome is that they are very loving,” Tonia says.

Both Mills’ 9-year-old brother, Josiah, and 11-year-old sister, Linnyah, find joy in their sister’s smile and laugh.

“I love everything about her,” said Linnyah.

Mills smiles at her younger sister’s words. “I feel like I am loved,” she said.

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