Advocacy runs deep within Drew Cumpson. In 2011, Drew was involved in a body surfing accident while on break during a humanitarian trip, Project Serve International, in Peru. The accident resulted in a spinal cord injury at the C4 vertebrae, leaving Drew a quadriplegic.
Drew spent more than 4 years in the hospital, during which he completed 10 consecutive semesters of his university program online and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce. Immediately following this accomplishment, Drew is focused on all the things he wants to achieve next.
Drew has a strong can-do attitude, whereby “every time somebody tells me ‘you can’t do that’, it just makes me want to do it more,” he explains. One of which is travelling. He recently took a trip to a Mexican resort, and visited the Mayan city of Chichen Itza.
Travelling has also allowed him to reflect on the need for more accessibility around the world. Particularly, Drew noticed the extra costs that incurred when travelling with a disability. For instance, renting an accessible minivan costs more than a regular vehicle. That was not acceptable for Drew, who has since turned to blogging to give a voice to people with disabilities.
“My goal is to change the view of people with a disability, showing that we are able to still live life to the fullest. We still have our own goals in life. They have obviously changed a little and we have had to readjust them, but we are mainly focused on doing what we love and are passionate for.”
Drew has also gained more perspective through his adventures. “I have learned a lot in the last five years I never thought I would know in my lifetime,” he shares.
Besides travelling, Drew has been keeping himself preoccupied with the many plans he has laid out for the future. They include opening his own restaurant and setting up a consulting firm for accessibility within businesses. On top of that, he has also been active on spinal cord research.
With such a hectic schedule, Drew keeps grounded by his support system, who consistently assure and encourage him. “If there is no support system in place for people, that’s where the issues occur. My support system is around and is able to be there for me,” he says. There are certainly days when he questions himself, Drew admits, but support is always a call away, and being at home reminds him that he is free to “do what he wants.”
Under a Health Ministry program, Drew has around-the-clock staff who looks after his needs and accompanies him for lunch or a movie outside via his accessible van.
“Life has been much better, a lot more fun, a lot more things I am able to do.”
Being out in public took some time for Drew to get used to as he often received stares and trepidation from strangers. However, that was something that did not stop Drew from doing what he loves. “I don’t like staying home and not doing stuff. I like to be active and getting out,” he explains. And he believes that individuals with disabilities should never be deterred from going out and pursuing the things they enjoy.
“You can still live life if you have an injury or have some sort of challenge in your life. You are still able to live it if you want to. There is a way to do it. There are ways to accommodate everything that needs to be accommodated.”
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