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Stories / Youth

Let’s catch up with Andrun

Friends of the Children program graduate reflects on his experience

In 2017 Andrun graduated from high school with his professional mentor Richmond by his side. Watching Andrun graduate brought Richmond back to the early days in their relationship, when Andrun was in the 5th grade and Richmond hadn’t quite gained his trust yet.

“I remember he kept asking me when I was going to leave,” Richmond recalls. Most of the adults Andrun knew cycled in and out of his life. I promised him that I would watch him graduate. I never make promises to kids if I can’t keep them. It is the worst thing an adult could do.”

As a young boy Andrun struggled to fit in and interact with other kids. He was targeted for acting differently than his peers because of his autism. He would bulldoze right through social cues, and kids at school bullied him. This caused him a lot of hurt feelings and stress. Richmond, on the other hand, never judged Andrun’s actions or behaviors. In fact, Richmond encouraged Andrun to just be himself. Andrun and Richmond’s relationship blossomed over the course of seeing each other weekly for eight years.

“Richmond always made me feel like I mattered,” Andrun said. “Whenever I need to make a decision, I think through all of my options and choices until I figure out a solution. Richmond taught me that.”

Andrun is currently attending Western Washington University and in his second year. He is majoring in Biochemical Engineering. One of his major career goals is to create affordable prosthetics for amputees. As a matter of fact, for his senior project at Big Picture High School, he came up with all the necessary materials to create such prosthetics.

As a sophomore in college, Andrun continues to turn to Richmond in times of need. “All of my boys know that I will be by their side no matter what,” Richmond said.