Cullman High School
On February 21, 2012, a policeman showed up at Cullman High School with a solemn look on his face. He informed the administration that sophomore Andrew Winfrey had been involved in a terrible wreck near the school. The officer did not know how to contact his parents, and Andrew was unconscious and trapped inside the vehicle. Assistant principal Kim T. Hall wrote, “On that day, I made the most difficult phone call of my career. I had to call Andrew’s mother and tell her that he was in an accident and that it didn’t look good.”
Andrew had just been named “First-Team All State Safety” for his season with the Cullman Bearcat football team. During his freshman season, he had already earned starting positions on the school’s varsity football, basketball and baseball teams. SEC baseball coaches were already paying attention to this solid infielder. “Andrew has always been a leader on the campus,” Ms. Hall said.
Andrew lay in a coma for four months – having sustained traumatic brain injuries. Varsity baseball coach Brent Patterson said, “Never before has a school or community rallied around a person an more than Cullman and surrounding areas did for Andrew. ‘Pray for Andrew’ shirts were and are still seen all over town…Charity golf, baseball, and fishing tournaments were held. There were bake sales, fun runs, and yard sales aimed at raising money…to help cover medical costs. Local businesses had ‘Andrew’ days and donated proceeds.”
Andrew continues to recover daily. He struggled to relearn how to speak and walk. “Andrew has a determination like I’ve never seen,” Ms. Hall wrote. He attended summer classes to catch up on his schoolwork – focusing on the goal of graduating with his classmates and walking unassisted across the stage to receive his diploma.
Though he could not play, Andrew never failed to be at every ball game to support the coaches and the athletes. “Some of our most emotional and memorable moments were those when Andrew led the football team out of the tunnel as his teammates pushed his wheelchair.” She went on to say tears were streaming down the faces of many people in the stadium the night Andrew walked for the first time in public to receive his Senior Night recognition. “This was our greatest accomplishment as the Cullman Bearcats.”
With the determination of competitive sportsman, Andrew continues his journey of recovery. The obstacles were encounter are sometimes unexpected and life-changing. Many people are defeated by such blows, but others emerge stronger than ever. For truly being a champion, Andrew Winfrey is recognized by his school and our state as one of the 2014 Young Heroes of Alabama.