GEORGETOWN — Kenton Adams is just like any other kid from Brown County.
Having just graduated from high school, he has spent the summer rafting and even paddleboarding in North and South Carolina, and has a trip to Florida planned for his vacation as well.
But earlier this summer, Kenton Adams, 19, took part in a different sort of event.
Last June, he was honored in a portrait drawn by Richard Luschek as part of a project called Portrait of a Soul, which was started by Cincinnati philanthropists Lee and Susan Schaefer in conjunction with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Portrait of a Soul organized an event for children with craniofacial conditions, with 10 children having their portraits drawn by local artists and then being honored at a grand unveiling at Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Cincinnati. Kenton Adams was born deaf and has vision problems as well as having suffered a head injury that involved bleeding in his brain.
“Lots of people came and took pictures,” Adams said through his mother, Julie. Julie Adams served as the translator for the interview, as Kenton signed his answers.
“He was like a celebrity,” Julie Adams added. “It was pictures and just talking to lots of different people. We met a lot of nice people.”
Kenton Adams went to the Fayetteville-Perry school district through eighth grade before transferring to St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati. He says he’s a big Cincinnati Reds and Bengals fan and went to a Reds game recently in which the two teams nearly came to blows after a couple of batters were hit by pitches.
This past spring, he was put in touch with the organization and Luschek, who met Kenton and Julie Adams to draw their portrait. Luscheck was drawn not only to Kenton Adams but to the project, Portrait of a Soul, because he himself was born with a cleft palate.
“That was one of the reasons I wanted to get involved because it had a personal message to me,” Luschek said.
After meeting Julie and Kenton Adams, Luschek soon saw how close their bond was, and decided to draw his portrait of Kenton Adams in the theme of his relationship with his mother.
“I decided to paint him signing (a word) and I asked him what to sign and he picked ‘I love you,’” Luschek said. “Anyone who has had that difficulty in their life knows how important their relationships are with their parents, especially their mother. There’s more of a bond. It was a painting of Kenton Adams but it was also a painting about him and his relationship with his mother.”
Raising a child with a disability is always a challenge, but having the chance to immortalize Kenton in a painting and show him off to others in the community was a truly heartwarming experience for Julie.
“It’s been an amazing experience for me personally,” Julie Adams said. “I’ve always known his beauty and he’s just a special kind of kid, and he always has been for everybody. For Lee and Sue to do this project to help give kids confidence and know their worth, that’s a special thing.
“He’s been a true blessing and I think anyone you ask would say the same thing.”
Kenton Adams’ experiences has pushed him to a potential art career.
“I want to learn how to do some drawings and paintings, and do some art work,” Kenton Adams said.
Kenton Adams said he would also be happy to participate in another similar program again.
“I would do that again one day,” he said. “I’ll just wait and see if they pick me.”