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Family brings ‘The Hobbit’ to life

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When “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” leaves theatres, it will close the door on 15 years of filmmaking that brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth to life. However, Edgewood teen Ty Quandt will have a permanent reminder of the joy the books and films brought to his life. Quandt may be the biggest "Lord of the Rings" fan in the state, with Tolkien’s work inspiring Quandt’s imagination to grow even as his physical senses deteriorate.

Quandt suffers from Niemann-Pick Type C, a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive deterioration of the nervous system. It usually affects children by interfering with their ability to metabolize cholesterol. NP-C has gradually taken away Quandt’s muscle control and speech ability but not his passion for Tolkien’s work.

“His brain continues to work overtime though with his creative imagination and his love of acting out his favorite stories in costume and recitation of characters' conversations,” neighbor Margie Goulden said.

To honor this passion, Quandt’s parents constructed a three-foot-wide “Hobbit door” in their front yard in a retaining wall. The door is a recreation of the entrance to Bilbo Baggins’ home from “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” movies. Goulden helped decorate the door for Christmas to give it a festive feel, and it’s something Quandt can always celebrate, even though there will be no more Middle Earth movies coming out.

“We’re really into it. We love it. We love our Hobbit door,” Ty’s mom, Karen Quandt, said.

During Ty’s Sophomore year, the Quandts were able to get funding from Umpqua Bank and KMPS 94.1 to take him and 18 other students from Puyallup High School to Southcenter Mall in a party limo bus to see the first Hobbit film, “An Unexpected Journey.” After the film, the group watched the “Lord of the Rings” films on the way home. The next year the Quandt’s had their own little party for the release of “The Desolation of Smaug,” and Ty and his family were able to see the third Hobbit film, “The Battle of the Five Armies,” this year in Las Vegas. Ty never goes to see the movies without his trusty Gandalf hat, which he has to take off so as not to block the view of the individuals sitting behind him. Ty and his parents have read through “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy three times and “The Hobbit” five times, and Ty is able to recite dialogue line for line.

“One of Ty's favorite lines from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is when Gandalf is talking to Frodo and Frodo says, ‘I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.’ Ty's favorite line is when Gandalf says, ‘So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All they can decide is what to do with the time that is given to them,’” Karen said.

For more information about Niemann-Pick type C disease, go to http://www.parseghian.org, the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation or http://www.inpda.org, the International Niemann-Pick Disease Alliance.

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