August 2, 2013

Steve Solloway: Drew a true athlete, who never quit

(Continued from page 1)

Ashley Drew’s battle for life ended Thursday, but she’ll forever be remembered as the vivacious blonde who served as an inspiration for so many.

2010 Universityof Maine photo

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Days before, Cosgrove went to Steve Jones, the athletic department's longtime equipment manager. "Do we have a game-day No. 9 jersey for her? We've got to give her No. 9. Jonesy found one. He got back to me with a big smile."

The strongest and toughest of Maine's football players wear No. 9. Michael Cole, Maine's star defensive end, will wear it this season.

Last August, when Drew was fighting for her life against the aspergillus, I called Tyler Patterson, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle from Owls Head. Drew had perched on his shoulder pads in 2010 for a photo with the entire Maine team. I wanted to know if Patterson remembered the vivacious blond woman.

He had a copy of the photo on the wall of his apartment. "I look at it every day," said Patterson then. "She inspires me. When I start thinking I have a problem playing football, I look at her and realize I don't have a problem.

"She gives me hope."

The blogs, always written with startling clarity and honesty, were hopeful. Joy Drew didn't mind writing about getting lost on her first walks near the Spaulding Rehab unit near Boston's North Station. Ashley was transferred there for a time after her health stabilized, and she worked to regain speech and movement.

Thoughts on the Patriots, hurricanes and winter storms. Thoughts on nerve pain, appetites, the kindness of others and the Bruins. News of another, more ominous turn in Ashley's health, and hope it was one more roadblock to hurdle. God's got this.

The sad irony is for much of the 411 days, the new lungs did their job.

Friday afternoon, after Drew died from a much more damaging stroke, I texted her father, Tom Drew. We live our lives through examples set by others, I wrote. Your family has been an example for me.

I had said the same thing to Lee Roy, father of Travis, when he asked many years ago why the Portland Press Herald was still interested in writing about his son. Because Travis could have been my son, everyone's son. Lee and his wife, Brenda, could have been us, are us.

Ashley Drew and her family fought for her life with grace, faith and humor. Their passion for living should be our passion.

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

Twitter: SteveSolloway


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