Fifteen-year-old San Diegan Terry Leach wants to destroy Huntington’s disease, the condition that has devastated him since his toddler years and threatens to take his life very soon.
Terry’s story deeply moved San Diego artist Lee Ellingson to imagine a different outcome. In Lee’s Superman-like comic-book-style rendition (below), Terry has overcome HD by becoming “SuperTerry.” SuperTerry knocks out Huntington’s and saves the world from the ravages of the deadly disease that afflicts an estimated 30,000 Americans and could devastate as many as 250,000 more Americans who live at risk.
SuperTerry is vigorous, powerful, and triumphant. He beams with the joy of restored health and newfound happiness that the real-life Terry – along with every other victim of HD and juvenile HD – hopes for as scientists seek effective treatments and a cure.
“Wouldn’t it be great if this Huntington’s disease was like some kind of monster and Terry had super powers and could defeat the monster?” Lee told me in an interview. “That was my idea. It just kills me that a kid like Terry can have a disease like this at such a young age.”
Lee recently learned of Terry because of his own son Arnold’s struggle to live. Terry and Arnold attend the same after-school care program for disabled children and teens.
Arnold, who turns 13 later this month, was born hydrocephalic, a condition once known as “water on the brain.” He had an emergency operation immediately after birth to insert a shunt that drains fluid from the brain. He has had 23 more operations to adjust the shunt. Arnold also has autism and cerebral palsy.