CRESTVIEW — After more than a year of often painful surgeries and physical therapy, Davidson Middle School student Drew Barefield will share his positive attitude to encourage other kids who also face long-term recoveries from traumatic mishaps.
Drew, now 14, was struck by a boat while snorkeling on June 28, 2014. Monday night at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, he was named this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Florida Champion.
“Drew spent 75 days in The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart and underwent 13 surgeries,” hospital spokesman Mike Burke stated in a media release. “During his treatment, he showed a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude and genuine concern for other pediatric patients.”
As a Children’s Miracle Network champion, Drew will serve as a fundraising and awareness ambassador for The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart and all children treated at the charity’s 170 member hospitals, the release stated.
“I was very excited and surprised,” Drew said of his appointment. “For me, doing this is just to repay the community and show them how much I’m thankful for the community supporting me through my recovery.”
Drew and his family will travel to Washington, D.C., and Orlando to meet with media and highlight the work taking place at Children’s Hospitals.
“I’ll be going to Washington, D.C., in June, and while I’m there it’s going to be the two-year anniversary of my accident,” Drew said. “I can’t believe it’s almost been two years. It feels like it’s been five years.”
Drew will also represent The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart at various as-yet unspecified events throughout the year.
“My goal is to raise a million dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital,” Drew said.
With his therapy and seemingly endless rounds of medications behind him, Drew is focused on his future. He is currently taking weekly avionics courses taught by Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University faculty at Crestview High School.
“I want to be in the naval aviation field, like an air traffic controller,” he said.
Drew said he’s looking forward to sharing his experiences — especially the importance of a positive mental attitude — with other kids facing long recoveries from trauma.
“I would advise people to stay positive and think of the bright side of things,” Drew said. “I know they’re hurting now but they’re going to make it.”