On Tuesday evening, as I was packing up my things in San Juan and getting ready to head back home, I received an email from Andi Brunetto. Andi writes for Examiner.com and was interested in the 29 Days Until 29 story and asked if I’d have time to speak with her. Of course I said yes and we ended up having a great 30 minute conversation. The result is the article below. You can also view the article on the website by clicking HERE. Thank you Andi!
One-on-one with Drew Lawrence: 29 days of healing, relating, and sports.
Sports Relationships Examiner
October 6th, 2010 10:24pm ET
34 flights total. Over 35,000 miles. More than 3,600 minutes in the air. For Drew Lawrence, he has spent the last month traveling the nation to honor a very special woman while attempting to turn the most extreme of negatives, into a positive. His mother, Kathleen Wilson Lawrence passed away from brain cancer during Drew’s freshman year in college and like many of those touched by cancer, he struggled to come to terms with losing a loved one to this terrible disease.Of course he has donated over the years to the American Cancer Society, and regularly participated in Relay-4-Life; but what could one man do beyond that? His experience with social media and marketing combined with JetBlue’s $699 “All You Can Jet” unlimited one-month travel pass, inspired him a mere six weeks ago to make the personal journey of a lifetime.
By asserting positive interpersonal connections, Drew was on a mission to leave his comfort zone and home behind, to pursue relationships with those of us who need some TLC most. Through his “29 Days Until 29” expedition, he would effectively use the power of positive connections to support the fight against cancer. He shares that “you don’t have to give a thousand dollars or run a marathon to make a difference; you can help them through simply connecting, sharing and turning a negative experience into a positive one”. On day 29, from his last stop in Puerto Rico, he speaks from the heart about enduring the worst of circumstances and the power of healing he witnessed through an unlikely source-sport.
Strength of spirit:The human spirit may be one of the most underestimated weapons against cancer. Drew realized that cancer connects us all to some extent, as practically everyone knows someone who has been affected by this devastating disease.“Cancer is a negative way to be connected in this world” Drew states, as he continues “so let’s replace it with a positive experience of sharing”. His trip renewed his faith in the goodness of the human spirit as he departed on September 7th, he quickly realized how his vision of making a positive impact within this large community would be welcomed. He utilized social media to meet people at his destinations, share stories of healing and begin to eliminate the negativity cancer leaves behind and replace it with a movement of optimism. With one large backpack and his laptop, he would encounter more strength than could be imagined from pure unbridled spirit.
12th Man:Drew visited over 30 cities on his journey and along the way he attended several local sporting events. He recalls those moments sharing: “I was in New Orleans for NFL opening weekend, went to a Broncos game in Denver and even skydived in California with a two-time cancer survivor!”; but what makes this special is that sports brings out people’s ability to talk to each other. Maybe you’re wearing the same jersey? Hoping foryour team to win? As sports fans, it becomes easy to let down those barriers, allows for a conversation to take place and for a few quarters, some time to forget the pain and just be. Drew’s sister’s reaction to his endeavor was simply a statement: “Life is a one-way ticket with no refunds or exchanges, live it up.”And now that’s exactly what he tries to do every day, even throwing himself out of a perfectly good plane.
“What’s next?” doesn’t resonate with Drew any longer and he hopes to keep it that way. Rather he plans to enjoy the “now”. As he headed back to Virginia to blow out some birthday candles, he is ready to lay in his own bed, enjoy some football and personally write back all those supporters who reached out to him along the way via his blog and social media outlets.“I learned to appreciate what’s in front of me” Drew shares, as he wants to never take anything for granted again and continue to help others recover from the negativity cancer can spread. Surely his beloved mother is watching over him as not once during his extensive travels did he get stopped for a pesky bag check and more importantly he arrived safely to each port; and isn’t that really what his mission was about? Simply reaching out and watching out for each other.
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