The Sad Fate Of The Kid Who Became Famous For Shooting His Marshmallow Cannon With President Obama

Obama marshmallow collage Getty Images/Saul Loeb

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The 14-year-old student who became famous after he dazzled President Barack Obama with his homemade marshmallow cannon is now a 20-year-old adult battling schizophrenia.

The marshmallow cannon engineer, Joe Hudy, impressed Obama at White House Science Fair in February 2012 by using his “Extreme Marshmallow Cannon” to shoot marshmallows across the State Dining Room. The then-eighth-grade student’s pressurized air gun was capable of launching marshmallows up to 175 feet—over half a football field.

Obama was so awed by the marshmallow cannon that he decided had to experience the thrill of shooting it himself.

In the years that followed, Hudy became something of a minor academic celebrity. He visited foreign countries to advocate for the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. (You can see a chronicle of his travels on this blog, last updated in 2016).

A website called hailed Hudy as officially being among the “10 Smartest Kids In The World.”

Things took a turn for the worse, however.

In January 2017, doctors diagnosed Hudy with schizophrenia.

“He started taking about the Chinese government following him,” Victor Hudy, Joe’s father, told Phoenix Fox affiliate KSAZ-TV this week. “He started getting a lot of paranoia and psychosis.”

Joe Hudy was working in Hong Kong at the time.

“He kept on saying his apartment was bugged,” Julie Hudy, Joe’s mother, told KSAZ-TV. “It was something I never dreamed of hearing.”

The mental issues Hudy had in Hong Kong led to a two-week stint in a psychiatric hospital.

Victor and Julie Hudy were able to transport their son to the United States. He spent some time at a treatment facility in Cincinnati, Ohio. Doctors at the Ohio facility made the schizophrenia diagnosis.

Joe Hudy has since checked into a psychiatric care facility in Tennessee. It is reportedly cheaper than the facility in Ohio, but it still costs $25,000 each month.

Elizabeth Hudy, Joe Hudy’s sister, has created a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $50,000 for Joe’s psychiatric care.

“Anyone who knows my mother and father knows that they are some of the most generous and caring people you will ever meet,” Elizabeth Hudy writes.

“My parents have done tremendous things to promote STEM education,” she also writes.

“As their daughter, I only hope to be able to give as much support in return as I have always received from them. I am aware of the financial toll this has had on my family and I am hoping that you can help lessen the burden of this unforeseen financial hardship.”

Additional money raised will be donated to families with similar situations, Elizabeth Hudy has promised.

As of late Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe page has raised just over $29,000.

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