By Bonnie Meibers, For The Miami Student
Andrew Leurck, a 17-year-old from Hyde Park in Cincinnati, has two passions - sports and drawing rainbows.
Andrew has drawn a rainbow every day since he was 8 years old, according to his mother, Katherine Leurck. His parents have kept every rainbow Andrew has drawn to-date. Altogether, that's almost 2,000 of them.
The rainbow is a sign of love, Andrew said.
Andrew's message, although simple in nature, crosses all barriers, said David Leurck, Andrew's father and director of corporate relations at Miami. Developmentally disabled children like Andrew have talents and value to share with the world. Andrew's is drawing and he genuinely wants to get to know others.
Andrew has cognitive learning and sensory integration issues, meaning that his brain hasn't developed correctly or at a pace normal to that of his peers and that his brain doesn't always process messages it receives from his body's senses correctly.
On Sept. 12, the Leurck family decided to wrap their house in Andrew's drawings, calling it "the house that Andrew built."
"We woke up the next morning and could look through the paper and see all the people who were up on our lawn reading the rainbows," Katherine said. "One of our neighbors had tears running down his face looking at all of these rainbows."
The home drew a crowd. People came from as far as Middletown and Finney Town, 40 and 17 miles away, respectively. Other Miami faculty, including Kirk Bogard, assistant dean for external relations, and his wife, Sabrina, drove by the home.
"A little boy jumped into my arms and squeezed me tight [when he saw the rainbows]," Andrew said.
Due to wind, the rainbows were only able to be on the house for one day.
The family plans to make a website and he will release it within the next 40 days. There is a short trailer in progress about the wrapping of their house. Copy House Films, a company founded by Miami alumni, Konrad Norris, Cody Norris, Bryce Norris and Colten Kidwell, is producing it.
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Katherine also plans to make a documentary and submit it to the film festival, ReelAbilities, which benefits children and young adults with special needs.
"His lens is so beautifully clear," his mother said.
David Leurck said Katherine is Andrew's biggest fan and driving force.
Katherine is in the process of writing two books. One is a children's book, she said, that aims to let readers know they are special. The other is a chapter book, which details raising Andrew from birth to almost 18 years old.
"It's a journey when you have a special needs child," she said. "He is the best gift I never wanted."
Katherine hopes to publish the chapter book by Aug. 20, 2016-Andrew's 18th birthday.
David calls his son a "connector."
"He is the most social person you'll ever meet," he said.
Andrew has the ability to connect with most people he meets, David and Katherine said. He has his own business cards, which his parents call "connector cards." These cards have rainbows with the phrase "you're special" on them.
Andrew keeps the cards in his pocket and passes them out to people he meets.
"People hang on to them like they're more important than money," David said.
The documentary will detail the ups and downs of raising a developmentally disabled child which David and Katherine hope will be encouragement to other children and young adults with special needs as well as their parents.
"It's not always rainbows," David said. "Sometimes it is the storms that allow those rainbows to form."