RYE, N.Y. – Andrew “Chowder” Kranichfeld, a former Rye High School hockey player who lost his eyesight due to a brain tumor, published his first ever children’s book titled “Karen’s Garden” in memory of his late mother. He hopes to inspire others to achieve their goals no matter what.
“I kind of wanted to think of a way where I could honor her. She loved gardening and she was always trying to get out to garden and water the plants,” said Kranichfeld of his mother. “I was lucky where I grew up in Rye was sort of on the edge of town near Rye Brook and we actually had three greenhouses on our property and a big field so I got to garden.”
His mother died of leukemia in March 2010 while he was living in the Bronx and attending Manhattan College. Soon after, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer. He later lost his eyesight.
Shortly after his diagnosis, community members in Rye began raising money for Kranichfeld to pay expenses through the Chowder Cup, a hockey scrimmage and ice skating festival inspired by Kranichfeld and his nickname “Chowder.” The event continues and now Kranichfeld donates money to cancer research centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering. He hopes to expand the event into a charity organization someday.
As soon as “Karen’s Garden” was released, he emailed former teachers at Rye High School who were able to distribute information to a wider audience. “I would love to do a book reading, but I would have to submit it to memory or listen off a recorder in my ear,” Kranichfeld laughed.
“I’ve always tried to stay positive. I remember when I first went blind I was definitely overwhelmed and I said, ‘What am I going to be able to do for the rest of my life?’ But then as I sort of adjusted with it I found there is an amazing amount of assistive technology and programs and organizations to help blind people,” he said.
Kranichfeld said he was always someone who loved editing music and video, so he began researching “voice to text” software, which he now uses regularly to text friends on his iPhone or write on his blog.
In the future, Kranichfeld said he hopes to write more children’s books incorporating more family members and environmentally-educational material into the story.
“I think of a lot of children’s books I read that had a lasting impact on my like Dr. Seuss or “Where The Wild Things Are” that all seem very simple, but they have underlying themes and meanings that are pretty adult or advanced,” said Kranichfeld.