After graduating from Avon Lake High School outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Drew went to Ohio University where he joined the Army ROTC program. By his senior year, he was the top-ranked Cadet in the Ohio University Battalion and ranked 13th in the Nation for physical performance, academics, and leadership.
After graduating from OU, Drew went on to complete the world-renown US Army Ranger Course and began his career as an infantry officer in the 10th Mountain Division. He was promoted to lead his Brigade’s prestigious Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon where he earned his first Bronze Star during combat operations in Iraq.
Drew then volunteered for the Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course, and he was selected for and completed the rigorous, high-attrition, two-year Special Forces Qualification Course. Upon graduation, Drew served in 1st Battalion 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Stuttgart, Germany. During this time, he deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Africa. In total, he led special operations units in close combat for four years during over 300 combat missions, earning two more Bronze Star Medals.
Drew’s senior officer ranked him as his “#1 Special Forces detachment commander and among the top 5% of all officers with whom I served with in 19 years.”
Although he was deeply proud of his service and all that it demanded of him, Drew poured his soul in to every part of life. He was an accomplished painter, a poet, and a musician. He treasured his large family and was gratefully a Son of Avon Lake who had Cleveland roots. As he traveled the world, he composed countless songs, poems, and tributes about the life he lived, those roots, and those who touched his life.
Drew treasured exploration and adventure as a surfer, a skydiver, and a man of the mountains and woods. Most importantly, he wanted nothing more than to serve and connect with others. He spent much of his years doing that in the US Army. But he took as much pride in quietly doing so with the homeless and those he thought to be misunderstood. He lived for deep conversations about the world, about living, love, and pain. Many times he had those conversations while wearing a mullet wig or carefully selected costume, flashing his infectious sense of play and wonder.
He treasured the beauty of four seasons, the serenity of the ocean, bonfires, and his family’s cottage on Kelley’s Island.
Envisioning a perfect evening, Drew wrote a song about gathering with friends and family to share song, dance, rest, and dreams. Here is an early recording of Drew introducing us to "I Know A Place" beside the bonfire.
Drew's song has become our Project D.R.E.W. anthem. Inspired with an uplifting message of togetherness and community, we fill the stage to sing Drew's song together as the grand finale of each workshop.
Drew kept a running list of his favorite quotes that inspired him, helped him make sense of the world, and reminded him of the life he sought to lead. One of the last quotes he sent was Jack London’s “Credo”:
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.