Academy Award Winner Jennifer Lawrence’s Longtime Friend with Down Syndrome

In today’s New York Daily News, there’s a profile of the Best Actress Oscar winner for “Silver Linings Playbook,” Jennifer Lawrence, focusing on her life, family and friends growing up in Louisville, Kentucky.

The piece notes that the Lawrence clan – who one neighbor describes as “a wonderful Christian family” – were her guests for the Academy Awards. Her parents, Karen and Gary, and her big brothers, Ben and Blaine, took turns sitting in the one seat available next to her during the ceremony.

Also of interest is that Jennifer has a longtime friendship with a boy with Down syndrome named Andy Strunk, who she met at church when they were young.


Jennifer always had star power and put it to good use, said nurse practitioner Pollyanna Strunk.

Jennifer and Strunk’s son, Andy, who has Down syndrome, met at church and then became close friends in Kammerer Middle School.

“She always had a soft heart for him. She always looked out for him. Middle school is a tough place to be, especially for a kid with special needs,” Pollyanna Strunk said.

In seventh grade, Lawrence was voted as “Most Talkative” — and she used her chatty knack to help Andy campaign the following semester to become “Mr. Kammerer.”

“It’s like king for the day,” Pollyanna Strunk said.

“She nominated him, and he won. She would talk to her friends and tell them to vote for him. She is very charismatic. It’s just her natural person coming out.”
Jennifer started sending Andy Strunk signed pictures from photo shoots when she was modeling, and then movie posters.

Pictures and posters of her festoon Andy Strunk’s bedroom.

A “Winter’s Bone” poster is inscribed, “To Andy — Don’t forget about me!”

The pair last hung out Christmas Day. Jennifer invited him to her parent’s home for a holiday hug.

“She has a good spirit,” Andy Strunk told the Daily News. “I just like to hang out with her.”

Pollyanna Strunk said her son received an autographed “Silver Linings Playbook” poster Saturday before the Oscars.

“She arranged for her aunt to hand deliver it to him,” she said. “This is her. She hasn’t forgotten who she is. This is her roots.”

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UPDATE: Watch a video of Andy Strunk discussing his friendship with Jennifer.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.