Hendrix is a lovable boy who leaves an impact on everyone he meets, but in his own life, he’s been met with some serious obstacles. For his wish, Hendrix wanted to show the world what it was like to walk in his shoes, while also taking a moment to thank everyone who’s helped him along his journey.
At just seven years old, Hendrix has been through more than most adults. He is deaf, has delayed speech and battles chronic pulmonary disease, a respiratory condition that affects his ability to breath. Despite these things, Hendrix has an undeniable gift for making others smile.
Hendrix has faced “what would be perceived as struggle after struggle, and he just conquers everything with the best attitude,” says his mom, Rebecca. “He’ll tell you ‘That’s hard,’ and we’ll say ‘Well yeah, it’s hard, but you can do it.’”
One thing that seemingly comes easy to Hendrix, though, is being in the spotlight.
So when Hendrix’s wish-granting volunteers met with him, Hendrix wished for something as unique as he is: to have a documentary made about his life. The film would allow him to show people his everyday activities and what he enjoys most, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Legos, while also giving him a platform to thank all the wonderful people who help him every day.
“I think this is a way for him to allow people to get to know him, because you know he can’t just come up and start a conversation with someone. This is a good way for people to see who he is and I think that’s important to him,” explained Hendrix’s dad, Randy.
Local filmmaker Ken Nelson – or “Mr. Ken” as Hendrix’s family calls him – stepped in to bring Hendrix’s vision to life, starting the filming process with a 6 a.m. wakeup call at Hendrix’s home before school one day. For the next six months, Mr. Ken followed the family wherever they went, documenting everything from family vacations in Hawaii and Louisiana to doctors’ appointments and surgeries at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. And while the documentary takes time to portray all of these important moments in Hendrix’s life, it also pays special attention to the people who surround him and care for him each day, including his doctors, therapists, teachers and family members.
“It’s a team. It’s a village. It’s a group effort because we could never do it on our own,” shared Rebecca.
According to Randy, “This was a way for [Hendrix] to say, ‘You know what? I wouldn’t be where I’m at without you guys and I want to say thank you.’”
Hendrix’s documentary – titled ‘Livin’ Like Hendrix’ – premiered at the IMAX Theatre at the Indiana State Museum in November of 2015.
Hundreds of people showed up for the event to celebrate Hendrix and his incredible wish, and most left with something they had not anticipated – a newfound perspective on life. Hendrix’s perseverance, can-do attitude and love for life shined through in every scene.
For Rebecca, Hendrix’s impact on the audience that evening came at no surprise. "He teaches everyone something new every day either about life or about themselves," she shared. But that didn’t make the experience any less special. “It fills my heart to know how everyone feels about him – to hear how he’s changed their lives.”
Rebecca hopes the documentary will be an inspiration to other families in similar situations.
And for Hendrix and his family, the film will serve as a constant reminder of their own support system and the value of every person who comes into their lives. “This will be a memoir for him,” said Rebecca. “We’ll be able to look at all of these people who have been helping us…early hearing advocates, preschool teachers, the administration, doctors, therapists…We wanted to say ‘thank you.’”