Adam Swaney, 22, of Winfield, is exhibiting some of his drawings in the Winfield Arts and Humanities Council’s gallery during July. Although the subject matter is varied, many of his drawings feature Elvis Presley or items associated with him.
Adam was born with Duchenne’s, a severe form of muscular dystrophy that affects young males. It is an inherited disorder characterized by rapidly progressive muscle weakness that starts in the legs and pelvis and later affects the whole body. Most individuals with Duchenne’s don’t live past age 20.
“At age 11, I was wheelchair bound, and my muscles got progressively worse,” Adam said. “I was put on a ventilator in 2006.”
Adam is a son of Leslie and Royce Swaney of Haysville and graduated from Campus High School’s special education program. In December 2007, he moved to a Creative Community Living residence in Winfield where there is a nurse on duty around the clock. Since Adam has a tracheotomy and a ventilator, no sound comes out of his mouth when he talks. Friends, relatives and staff members read his lips to know what he’s saying.
Adam’s drawing talent has added a special joy to his restricted life. Sketchpads are filled with pencil drawings featuring many subjects, but there’s a heavy concentration of Elvis in various poses. Staff members assist Adam so he can draw while his wheelchair is pulled up close to the kitchen table.
“Before I moved to CCL, I could not contract my hand far enough to grip a pencil to be able to draw,” Adam said. “I now receive therapy five days a week, and my hand, with help, can almost be flattened. I also now have no trouble drawing.
“For me, being able to focus on my drawing is a way of expressing myself. Instead of being down and sad about my situation, I am able to focus on my drawings and find something more constructive to do with my time.
“My inspiration for drawing comes from many different things – from celebrities to nature and everything in between,” he said. “I especially love drawing Elvis Presley, from his cars to an Elvis diner. I will continue to draw for as long as my body will allow me to.”
Adam encourages other people to draw as a creative outlet.