In 2011, on a birthday drive to visit his parents, musician Andrew and his fiancé, Alicia, had their Honda Civic rear-ended by a careening semi-truck at 50 mph. Both Andrew and Alicia sustained severe traumatic brain injuries. Before that event, their plans included a move to Baltimore the very next day for Andrew to begin pursuing a Master’s degree in Music. All of their possessions, in fact, were already in a truck and headed to the East Coast. That move never materialized and Andrew’s life, as well as Alicia’s, was irrevocably changed after the accident.
While Alicia awoke from coma three months later. Andrew, remained in a semi-conscious state at the University of Michigan Hospital for nine months until an experimental treatment, a dose of the sleeping pill Ambien, woke him up. “The first thing he said was, ‘Where am I and what happened?’” recalls his mother, Janet. Andrew was then transferred to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital – Ann Arbor where he spent a year in rehabilitation. Next came a transition to Rainbow Rehabilitation’s facility in Farmington Hills for an additional seven months of rehab prior to moving to his parents’ home in Fort Wayne, IN. It was there that Andrew was able to return to a semi-normal existence, practicing his upright bass every day with the help of a standing wheelchair and even beginning to compose music again – an auspicious start but still a far cry from his previous accomplishments including school jazz band, garage bands, music composition, Interlochen Center for the Arts on a Rotary Grant, DownBeat magazine’s best jazz soloist designation, a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, student at the Peabody Institute for John Hopkins University, an International Society of Bassists award, performing on 25 CDs with various artists, and more.
By 2015, Andrew was able to move into his own home in Ann Arbor with 24 hour care. Clearly, life with a brain injury was very different than before, but he was determined to continue on a similar path. Activities such as driving are no longer possible, but attending concerts, composing music, and performing as a singer-songwriter music are well within his grasp.
While still in Fort Wayne, Andrew got involved with the Brain Injury Association of Indiana and continues to attend support groups in Michigan. Without BIAMI and Michigan No-Fault Insurance (for which the BIAMI advocates), Andrew is certain he would not be as remotely well off as he is, cognitively or physically.
In appreciation, Andrew has begun a fundraiser on GoFundMe.com to support BIAMI and individuals recovering from a brain injury. When a person donates $5 or more, they receive an mp3 of “The Recovery Song,” written by Andrew and recorded by local musicians. To donate, please visit the page at www.GoFundMe.com/ recovery-song.