May 5, 2010

Until now, fighter needed no favors

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

University of Maine photo Ashley Drew of Scarborough, a UMaine graduate student and passionate trumpet player, gets a lift from Tyler Patterson, left, and Steve Shea on Saturday after the annual spring football game. The team helped raise money for Drew’s double lung transplant, which she needs because she suffers from cystic fibrosis.

University of Maine photo

When she was able, she struggled out of bed to a window to see the sun. She cried at the sight.

"That time completely changed my life," she said. "I knew it was time to put myself out there because I needed help."

Frankly, she hopes you'll open your wallets and, even more, your hearts. Her lung capacity is down to 26 percent. She needs the double lung transplant that so many with cystic fibrosis need to survive.

"I don't know what my time line is. I don't know where I am on lists," said Drew from her home in Scarborough. "I do know it's a big step. Some people won't take it."

She was born with the disease. Fifty years ago, many didn't survive it long enough to enter kindergarten. Now, the median life expectancy is more than 37 years.

To withstand the surgery and recovery, Drew must weigh at least 90 pounds. It took a few months, but she gained the five pounds to reach that weight. A fast-food diet helps. So does a feeding tube that delivers 1,200 calories when she sleeps.

She laughs. Patterson, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound freshman tackle from Owls Head, might gain five pounds after one meal at the training table.

Patterson and his teammates autographed a Maine helmet and a football, which were raffled off Saturday. Because the scrimmage drew about 100 fans, proceeds from the raffle totaled about $500. Drew was grateful.

Cosgrove didn't mention her need for a double lung transplant when he introduced her to his team.

He had learned only the week before that her father, Tom, was Cosgrove's resident advisor in his freshman dorm.

Suddenly, what was a lesson in life outside football had become more personal to Cosgrove. Last week, his players worked to raise awareness of bone marrow transplants. The Cole Scrimmage is named for the popular Maine assistant football coach who died in 2004 from cancer.

Now here was Ashley Drew, whose grace and vitality had also moved him. It moved his players. "I was surprised that she was in such good spirits," said Chris Treister, a quarterback from Cape Elizabeth. "It's incredible when you think how much harder she has it."

Cosgrove gave Drew a Maine jersey, autographed by the players. It was No. 9, worn by graduated defensive stalwarts Jovan Belcher and Jordan Stevens. "Some of our toughest players have worn No. 9," said Cosgrove.

A tough 90-pound woman wears it now.

No one should be surprised when Drew returns in a year or two to Alfond Stadium for a regular season game.

She'll walk to the center of the field and raise the trumpet to her lips.

And she'll play.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

 

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