Drew is ready for College

Drew Fernandez is the son of Tracey Mayer – one of our Parent Advocates – and like John Gonoude a person that has overcome the stigma of concussion.  Not only is it a real brain injury, not treating it correctly can have life long effects for more people than we care to admit.  As Drew finds time he will send us updates, we hope this avenue will help him as well.

Over the past week, two really great things happened in regard to my upcoming freshman year in college at Illinois State University.  The first was having my request for formal academic accommodations approved, based on my medical condition of suffering from migraines, as a result of a severe concussion.  My parents and I were overjoyed with receiving the email notifying us with such amazing news.

Secondly, based on my outstanding academics, I received a letter from Illinois State University inviting me to compete for the University scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships available to new freshmen at ISU.  It is designed for academically talented, new freshmen from traditionally underrepresented groups or first generation college students who have overcome hardship in achieving their academic goals.  I did not receive this scholarship, however when you don’t receive one scholarship, they put your entry in the run for other potential scholarships.  Catching me by surprise, I was awarded a Redbird Academic Scholarship, renewable for up to four years.

Both of these things are especially significant because ISU acknowledged that what I have gone through is real.  Having them validate it is really important, not only for me, but for all other student athletes who suffer from post-concussive issues.

This is what I had written for my scholarship entry; Continue reading

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A Concussion Survivor

Drew is the son of Tracey Mayer – one of our Parent Advocates – and like John Gonoude a person that has overcome the stigma of concussion.  Not only is it a real brain injury, not treating it correctly can have life long effects for more people than we care to admit.  As Drew finds time he will send us updates, we hope this avenue will help him as well.

When my mom asked me to write for the blog, I knew instantly that I was interested but the first few times I sat down to write about it, things became tougher for me than I had thought.  Although I have had so much support and worked on moving forward from my freshman incident, this whole situation continues to be a sensitive topic for me to talk about.

As my senior year progresses, everything has been moving more smoothly than ever.  Starting off the year I still continued to set my standards high; to keep improving in my classes.  Just in case I needed a little GPA boost, I had taken a couple AP classes for the first time in my 4 years of high school – unlike many of my friends who decided to have a blow off schedule.  This was more of something that would just Continue reading

A Calling For Ease: Drew Fernandez’s Story

(Project Brain Wave)  High school football is one of the most exciting, defining, and proud markers of American culture, and is a level of play that to many, extends beyond being just a game.  The dreaded months of training camp, the long hours in the weight room and practice field, and the time spent studying playbooks to perfect a team’s system all contribute to the same goal—that being the unforgettable feeling of standing beneath the lights on a Friday night before your home crowd, set to take on the opponent you have prepared for.  This feeling that empowers our student athletes, that makes our parents proud and supportive, that makes our friends anxious to witness game day, is what the coaches and players live for.  High school football is defining, and is home to life lessons to be learned and experiences to cherish.  But for the Fernandez family, the high school football season of 2008 is one they will never forget.

Drew Fernandez, a young up and coming running back for his high school’s football program that was known for state championships in seven of the previous ten years, was productive both on the field, and off the field, executing plays on the field and performing well in his studies in the classroom.  His older brother had also been part of their high school’s championship legacy, and Drew was looking forward to contributing to such successes as well.  His first year in high school was in 2008, and it would be the first time he would have an opportunity to be a part of his hometown’s illustrious football program also.  According to his mother, Tracey, “football was everything to him.”

But such a mentality would soon be combated during one of his freshman football games, as Drew received the ball at running back during play, and then took hits from defenders in both the front and back of his head while he was being tackled.  Drew had sustained a concussion, and would be removed from play.  His mother told me of what events would then follow after her son took a blow to the head, resulting in his diagnosis.

“The trainer of the opposing team (the game was away) called me to tell me Drew suffered a concussion, and asked me if I wanted him to go back to school on the team bus or if he should call the paramedics,” said Tracey.  “I asked him to call the paramedics, and I met them at the ER.  The last thing Drew remembers from the day of his injury was riding on the bus to the game.  He has no recall of the trip to the ER via ambulance or anything thereafter until the next morning when he woke up at home.” Continue reading