Staff Sgt. Andrew Carpenter, US Army
After high school Drew was drawn to the military, determined to be what he calls a net positive, with a goal to support others who can’t support themselves. In aviation operations, he was in a black hawk unit during his service from 2004 to 2007. During that time he learned a lot of leadership skills, strategy, reading maps and imaging, and all aspects of communications related to that work. One of the most important things he learned was staying calm and thinking clearly during intense situations.
In 2007 he took a break from service and went to college, followed by joining the national guard. Leaving the guard in 2021, he started to experience numbness and tingling in his fingers and toes, then muscle aches. He blamed it on the stress of graduate school, a full-time job, and a 5-month-old baby at home, however, he called to check in with his doctor. He never made it to that appointment, his muscles started shutting down by the time he got to the hospital he was almost in complete paralysis.
After a battery of tests he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barŕe Syndrome; a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. He spent 6 months in the hospital, and lost the ability to speak, however, it started to subside before attacking vital organs, opening the door to intense physical therapy for recovery. His therapy became much like high school, spending an hour on speech, an hour on hand coordination, etc.
Now home, he uses braces on his legs, a cane to walk, and a scooter for traveling or on busier days. He is grateful for the mobility he has recovered, and his physical therapist encourages him to keep active daily to regain strength.
She also told him about the Dive Pirates Foundation. He’d always hoped to learn to dive, but it always seemed out of reach. Now, as he rebuilds his life adaptive scuba can be a part of it. He trained with his buddy Dajon Farrell and the Dive Pirates Chapter Midwest School of Diving