“We were watching Drew progressively get worse, he was in so much pain. He went from being this active, all-star teenage boy to laying in bed all day.” At the age of 11, Drew was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis…

Almost two years later, he was diagnosed with both Lyme disease and occipital neuralgia. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection often caused by tick bites that, if untreated, can lead to loss of ability to move one or both sides of the face, joint pains, and severe headaches and neck stiffness. Occipital neuralgia is a disease that causes chronic pain in the head and neck areas. It is usually a result of damage or pressure on the greater occipital nerve located near a vertebra in the neck. Though he had multiple general diagnoses, Drew’s treatments were not yielding much relief. The pains in his head neck were making it increasingly difficult to treat his arthritis.

“It’s meant a lot to me just to know that someone is there other than my parents and family. Just to know that he doesn’t have to be there, but chooses to, means a lot.” Drew entered the CC4C program in 2014 and was paired up with the Hutto High School football team. He was also given a Champion, Mark Calaway, also known as The Undertaker. Mark is a WWF/E Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, USWA World Heavyweight Champion. He has shown incredible support for Drew, including attending various CC4C events, raising money, and giving Drew incredibly special WWE experiences. Drew now had a support system outside of his family that he could rely on in particularly difficult times. For Drew, a new light of hope began to shine, and it grew ever closer each day.

“If you don’t have a diagnosis, you can’t get treatment. That’s the biggest thing. When they’re sick and you don’t know what’s wrong, it just keeps getting worse.” Drew traveled to the Carrick Brain Center in June of 2015 to have more extensive testing done to determine his diagnosis more accurately. The tests concluded that Drew had Autoimmune Encephalitis, a disease in which the immune system attacks the brain. His symptoms most likely grew from strep throat to scarlet fever, which led to the encephalitis. The combination of his encephalitis and cranial pressure damaged his occipital nerve. With a more accurate and complete diagnosis, the doctors were able to give Drew a more effective treatment, IVIG therapy which will allow him to regain most, if not all, of his cognitive function. Without support from CC4C, this trip would not have been possible for Drew and his family. Now, Drew and his family are hopeful for his future as he continues his recovery and a normal life.

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