Andrew Hanzel was born into a loving post-war family in January of 1947, an unfortunate victim of phenylketonuria, better known as PKU.
His diagnosis was "unfortunate," as his condition was preventable, had it been diagnosed within the first three weeks of life.
With little public awareness or research data available at the time, Andrew remained undiagnosed for a full year, by which time it was far too late to make a difference in his precious life.
Tragically, Andrew never learned to speak or walk. His family lovingly tended to his complex needs until the age of eleven, but Andrew needed around-the-clock oversight and intensive professional care.
Without the enlightened, person-centered options available today, Andrew's family had little choice but to institutionalize him.
During these difficult years, Andrew Hanzel lived at The Western School in Allegheny County, the same institution where Carol Mitchel, who would later become Verland's co-founder, was already immersed in a personal crusade.
To be near to her son, Andrew's mother Theo sought solace at The Western School where she started working with forty difficult boys, one of whom was David Tresch, the young boy whose situation had already so appealed to Carol Mitchell's mind and heart.
It was Theo's employment at Western that enabled her to introduce Carol to the other key players instrumental in the drive to create Verland.
Unfortunately, while residing at the Western School, Andrew Hanzel unexpectedly succumbed to pneumonia at the age of nineteen.
Finding strength in her belief that her "child's work on this earth was completed," Theo continued to pour her energies on this mission that she and Carol already shared.