'Stranger Things' star brings smiles to Utahns with rare genetic disorder

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MAPLETON — Most of the people attending a recent dinner party were meeting for the very first time.

One of the guests at the party — held at a Mapleton residence on Oct. 20 — had a pretty recognizable face.

Fifteen-year-old Gaten Matarazzo plays the role of Dustin on the hit show "Stranger Things," which debuted for its second season on Netflix Friday. He also has a rare genetic disorder known as Cleidocranial dysplasia, or CCD.

"In the first episode I mention it, and Dustin actually has the condition," Matarazzo said. "They wrote him into the show and made him kind of like me in that sense, which is really cool."

One in a million — those are the odds of being born with CCD, a genetic disorder that primarily affects the bones and the teeth.

In Utah, there are nine other people just like Matarazzo, and they came together to share dinner and support for each other.

"Everyone in Utah with CCD," Matarazzo said as he looked around the room. "This is going to be great."

One of those people is Stephanie Munoz.

"You know, going to school, I was teased," Munoz said.

She's never had a full set of teeth.

"Once I turned 18, I lost my insurance and the dentures never fit, so I went the whole 12 years with no teeth in," she said.

She knows the pain that can come with CCD, but what she doesn't know is that she walked into more than just a dinner party.

"A lot of people can't afford (dental surgery), so we're here to help them get their smiles back through dental surgery or any other surgeries they might need," Matarazzo explained.

A 'Stranger Things' star brought smiles to Utahns with a rare genetic disorder. (Photo: KSL TV)
A 'Stranger Things' star brought smiles to Utahns with a rare genetic disorder. (Photo: KSL TV)

He helped create CCD Smiles about a year ago. It's a non-profit organization based in Orem.

"This is going to be the first real big donation," Matarazzo said with a big smile.

Munoz will be receiving her first full set of teeth, courtesy of CCD Smiles. It's the first of what Matarazzo hopes will be many surprises for others who suffer from the disorder.

"I'm finally going to have a full set of teeth," Munoz said with tears in her eyes.

Ten people brought together for a dinner party unlike any other; ten people who are strangers no more.

"I have everything I need, so I thought it's time to help others who need it," Matarazzo said.

If you would like to donate to CCD Smiles, visit their website.


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Ashley Kewish


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