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Westlake native honors grandfather’s larger than life accomplishments with big screen project

A member of a family which has helped thousands of  people through the years with their family business and assistance to those in need could use a little deserved help from the public for a special project.

Katie Leimkuehler, who grew up in Westlake and interned a few years ago for West Life while she was a student at Miami of Ohio, is writing a screenplay about the lifelong accomplishments of her grandfather, Cleveland native Paul E. Leimkuehler. Paul, who in 1948 founded Leimkuehler Inc. – a firm which specializing in prosthetics and orthotics – lost his left leg while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Paul, typically for a member of his family, didn’t let his injury slow his activity down. Not only did he found the business, he created his own artificial leg, and also was the first U.S. amputee skier who created the outrigger design. As a result, he was inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame, Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and the Disabled Ski Hall of Fame.

To honor his accomplishments, Katie is writing a screenplay about her grandfather.

“It’s about his great life accomplishments from losing his leg in World War II, to overcoming it by creating his own artificial leg, and eventually designing ski outriggers,” she said.

Katie’s father Bill was one of Paul’s three sons who bought the family business from their father in 1978. The brothers’ assorted businesses now have 10 locations, stretching from Sandusky, Ohio to Pittsburgh. The offices and their staff provide doctors, medical facilities and patients with first-rate prosthetic and orthotic care.

As a journalist, I’ll put my personal family disclaimer in here. I became familiar with the typical Leimkuehler work more than 15 years ago when staff at one of the Cleveland area offices made a leg brace for my mother, who was slowly succumbing in a fierce fight with multiple sclerosis, which would ultimately put her in a wheelchair.

Mom’s going into the wheelchair was slowed by the brace the Leimkuehler staff designed for her leg. I remember the care and compassion they took in making the initial design for the brace, then re-doing it several months later when her condition changed and an adjustment was needed for the brace. I will always appreciate what they did for my mom.

When Katie worked at West Life, she showed she was the proverbial chip off the old Leimkuehler block. She always worked hard, produced a good product and worked well with others. I remember she also took time to go to an island in the Pacific Ocean off New Zealand and tutor second-graders in English.

After graduating from Miami with a double major in journalism and creative writing, she went to earn a master of  fine arts in fiction writing and getting a teaching certificate from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She worked for the Chicago Tribune for more than two years and is currently the senior manager of Social Media Marketing and Communications at the International Design Association.

In explaining why, in addition to all her other work, she is carving out additional time in her busy schedule to write and promote the screenplay, Katie said it’s a fine way to honor her grandfather and his many accomplishments.

“He has taught me to run with my dreams and never give up on them,” she said. “No matter how many times people say it can’t be done or that’s a a hard road – I’ve learned to tune it out because great things take dedication, work and perseverance and sure it’s hard, but it’s always worth it. My grandfather is a standing example that anything is possible.”

In addition to what she personally learned from her grandfather, Katie remembers her father Bill talking about him, and what he meant to him and other members of the family.

“He would talk about his father and what he meant to him, and how much he had learned from him about business and to keep trying to succeed,” she said. “He means a lot to the family.”

Katie has translated that family spirit of always striving to do better into the screenplay and a short trailer, which she has entered into the International Movie Trailer Festival.

This is where she could use a little help. The festival takes public votes into consideration. You can check out her work by going to YouTube.

Click here to cast a vote supporting her trailer.

Katie believes people will enjoy what they see.

“I think my grandfather’s accomplishments are something that could inspire the next generation,” she said.

Just like they’ve inspired her, and the rest of her family, into helping so many other people through the years.

 

 

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