“I feel that God gave me this thing, and it was meant to be given away.”
Ohio couple, Sue Neuke and her husband, adopted their son when he was just four years old. After three years passed, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It is an inherited disorder that causes rapid muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue.
Sue Neuke had started a project with her son, Christopher Harmon, back in 2007 while he was still alive.
She had been making stickers and coloring books showing physically diverse children. This is a project that she has been doing to eight years now.
It all started when she and her son were in a craft store looking for stickers to decorate a photo album. It was then that they noticed that there were no stickers that had people in wheelchairs. To their observation, another shopper nearby was experiencing the same struggle. From then on out, Nuenke decided to create her own stickers.
Nuenke tells The Mighty,
“He was my most valuable critic and biggest cheerleader,” “He was always coming up with new ideas for designs and encouraging me to keep going. He believed there were lots of kids who would like to see stickers that looked like them, too.”
With her sons inspiration and input, she drew many different images of children with disabilities and sent them to be made as stickers as well as designing a coloring book. Along the way she was sent special requests such as children who were missing limbs or children with cerebral palsy.
Although in the beginning she had made her artwork into a business, she decided to offer her work for free.
“I just think the whole idea of seeing somebody like you lets you know you’re not alone, that there are other kids out there like you,” “If somebody asks me, I make it for them. My goal was to give kids a fun little picture of somebody like them.”
“He liked the stickers and books, he really did. He’d go, ‘Mom, they’re good, keep doing it,’” Nuenke told The Mighty. “He’s 50 percent if not more of this whole project. He was the motivation, he was the example, he was my whole life. He was very invested in it.”
Although her son died back in 2011 from complications of his muscular dystrophy, Nuenke kept their dream alive and kept drawing.
“He always wanted to be a cartoonist, but I became the cartoonist for us,” Nuenke told The Mighty. “So much of it was Christopher-inspired, or he gave me the ideas.”
Her son loved to draw and even had art classes in high school, which he had aid, but was not able to because of his condition.
Nuenke and Harmon worked together on an e-book about Duchenne muscular dystrophy called “DMD and Me.”In his last two months of his life.
Article: The Mighty