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Friday, March 15, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence: Delta Tau Delta Sweetheart and Academy Award Winner

Univ. of Kentucky Delta Tau Delta Fraternity brothers Ben (left) and Blaine Lawrence with their sister, Jennifer at this year's Academy Awards

When I went to school at UK, I was the President of my fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. There were about 125 guys in my fraternity, mostly comprised of Louisvillians. When you are all hanging out together you never really know who will make it big, who will strike it rich or who will fizzle out.

It was tough to see through our Nati-Light and Makers Mark haze at the time that two of our fraternity brothers' little sister would become the biggest success of us all.

Ben and Blaine Lawrence's little sister is Jennifer Lawrence. Ben a year older and Blaine two years younger than myself. You might know her from her roles in Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games, or Winter's Bone. 

At the fraternity house, we just thought it was cool when she was cast as a member of TBS' The Bill Engvall Show, as Bill Engvall's daughter. If you're ever creeped on my Facebook profile, that's why my interests indicate that I watched that show.

Aside from her recent Academy Awards, another cool story about Jennifer has made it's way through the webisphere. The Lawrences went to Louisville Ballard with another one of my fraternity brothers, Wes Strunk.

Wes' father was a Methodist Pastor and coordinator for the state of Kentucky, so he moved around a lot. He spent some time in Northern Kentucky (Dixie Heights) before moving to Louisville. Wes also was very close his younger brother, Andy, who has Down Syndrome.

With the Strunks and the Lawrences growing up so close together, Andy has been on the Jennifer Lawrence bandwagon even before the Delts caught wind of her catching her big break on TBS.

There's another reason to love America's Sweetheart:

From the Mirror Online:

When beautiful Jennifer Lawrence lifted her Oscar no one was more thrilled than Andy Strunk.
He jumped up and down, pumped his fists and shouted: “Oh my God! That’s my girl! She did it! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah. She got it. I love you Jennifer.”
But Down’s sydrome sufferer Andy, 23, is more than just a big fan.

He’s Jennifer’s best friend from her home town and she has never forgotten him, the Sunday People can reveal .
The star is one of Hollywood’s hottest properties after landing the best actress Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook.
Yet success has not changed the kind-hearted actress who found fame in Winter’s Bone and box office smash The Hunger Games.
In both films her characters fight for other people in their lives, something Jennifer, 22, did for Andy when they were neighbours in Louisville, Kentucky.
She nominated him in a contest to find the most popular boy at their school.
At first, Andy’s parents were worried other kids at Kammerer Middle School might make fun of him. His mum, Pollyanna, now 58, even took Jennifer aside to tell her about their concern.
But Jennifer, then 14, convinced them they had nothing to worry about. As the most popular girl in school, she planned to lead the campaign for Andy herself.
In an ending worthy of a Hollywood movie, Andy, who has the educational levels of a seven year old, won hands down and was voted Mr Kammerer.
The support from Jennifer, who won the Most Chatty title, cemented their close friendship and Andy describes himself as her number one fan.
Jennifer has stayed in touch with Andy who, in turn, collects every photo and article he can find about her. His bedroom is now a shrine to the rapidly rising star.
In Silver Linings, opposite Bradley Cooper, Jennifer plays a sex-obsessed widow battling psychiatric problems who finds love with a former mental patient.
But before last Sunday’s nerve-wracking but ultimately triumphant Oscar awards ceremony in Los Angeles Jennifer was thinking about Andy.
She said: “He has the kindest heart of anyone I have ever met and he is one of the funniest people I have ever been around.”
She last visited him on Christmas Day and mum Pollyanna, a nurse practioner, is full of praise for the A-list star.
She said: “Jennifer is a very kind spirit. There aren’t many people who are movie stars who’d spend time with a special needs kid.
“She came over and gave him his Christmas hug and he was over the moon all day. When she’s in town she just walks down the street and knocks on the door to come and see Andy.”
Pollyanna said Jennifer’s campaign to get her classmates to vote for Andy in the popularity poll was a big turning point in his life.
“Mr Kammerer was the most popular position in school for a child to be in at that age.
“I was concerned because I was worried people would make fun of him but I talked to Jennifer and agreed to let her do it.
“He won and that really started the friendship between them and they are still in touch.
“He loved being showered with all that attention. They’ve spent time together over the years. Jennifer’s parents have a pool and Andy was invited to go over and use it whenever he wanted.
“Jennifer would swim with him and enjoy his company.
“She has always been very respectful of him and always treated him in a very kind way.”
The same is not true for another top US female singer and actress whose treatment of Andy left Jennifer steaming mad.
Pollyanna explained: “There is another actress Andy was a big fan of. She was in a show he loved on the Disney Channel and she was doing a concert near us. I got a ticket for Andy and he was really looking forward to going.”
Pollyanna said Jennifer reached out and asked the performer to do something special for her friend.
“But they did nothing and Jennifer was really upset because she couldn’t understand why another person couldn’t see he was special like she does.
“He didn’t expect anything but some people have a kind heart and some don’t,” said Pollyanna.
Jennifer left the tree-lined Indian Hills neighbourhood in Louisville when she was 14 to try her luck as a child actress in New York.
But Andy has always remained a precious reminder of her happy childhood.
Pollyanna said: “Andy doesn’t change for her and other people do.
“Other people grow up. Other friends she went to middle school with are in college or starting families but Andy still lives here and he’s still here when she comes home,” explained Pollyanna, who has two other grown-up sons with husband George, 59, a Methodist church pastor.
“For Jennifer, she can knock on the door and things stay the same.
“He’s always happy to see her. Other people may understand how famous she is. He just knows that he likes her and she likes him as friends,” she added.
Andy was convinced Jennifer was destined to be a big star.
Pollyanna said: “In his mind he always knew that. I will take him to a bookshop and he’ll stay there for an hour going through magazines looking for anything with her name and picture on.
“He had a tough time finding pictures and anything about Jennifer for the first couple of years after she left.
“He’d scour and search like it was a treasure hunt but now it’s obviously much easier. He has a filing cabinet full.”
Jennifer, who is on her friend’s speed dial, also sends Andy mementoes.
She signed a film poster for Winter’s Bone with the words, “Andy, Don’t forget me. Love you, Jennifer.”
Since winning a best actress Oscar nomination for that film, Jennifer’s career has soared.
She became the most watched female action hero as archer-heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and will earn $6million for this year’s sequel.
Jennifer is also to star in X-Men: Days of the Future Past with Skins actor Nicholas Hoult, 23, who she dated for two years until January.
But if her love life is uncertain there’s at least one thing she can bank on.
Andy and his family will never forget her loyalty. “I just know that Jennifer loves Andy. That’s genuine,” said the star’s mum, Karen, who is also close to the Strunks.
Andy was unable to attend the Oscars but dressed up in a tuxedo to watch the ceremony on television.
After Jennifer took the stage, with a slight stumble, to collect her award, Andy said: “It was the best night of my life. She’s the greatest girl in the world.”

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