Drew Maguire’s new lease on life results in fundraising bonanza
Published in the April 14, 2017 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — Some locals might know Melrose High School’s Andrew (“Drew”) Maguire from his work on the baseball diamond and golf course. But for the last three years the senior captain has led a quiet campaign to raise funds for a life crippling illness that affects adolescent children. And in the process, the budding philanthropist has fundraised a massive amount for the best children’s hospital in the world, Boston’s Children Hospital.
In four years 18-year old Drew has raised exactly $46,514.20 through a fundraising effort “Golf to Give Back,” an annual community fundraiser and golf tournament held at Mt. Hood Golf Course that took place from 2014-16. Proceeds have benefitted The Bone and Soft Tissue Tumor program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Drew’s story is a remarkable one, a testament to his physical endurance and his body’s ability to renew itself in a manner that has prompted medical studies based on his case. Drew, son of Peter and Andrea of Melrose, was diagnosed with a large and aggressive benign cystic bone tumor in his pelvis in fourth grade. A hockey player at the time, he hobbled off the ice during a game with pain in his pelvis. It was originally thought to be a sports injury but as pain increased over time, x-rays were ordered and a misdiagnosis was given, a frightening one: aggressive bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Thankfully, that diagnosis was wrong. The correct diagnosis was instead an aneurysmal bone cyst, a benign tumor/blood-filled cyst diagnosed mostly in adolescents. Although this diagnosis was not good, it was better than the alternative. These cysts can be aggressive and cause full deterioration of the bone and surrounding tissue, causing a lifetime of crippling pain, limited motion and fractures. Drew spent his sixth grade year enduring a series of biopsies and nine surgical procedures that used chemicals to treat the large lesion; a process called sclerotherapy, a less invasive procedure than open surgery. According to the doctors, standard surgery to remove the lesion was not an option because it would have been life threatening. The doctors used a procedure in Interventional Radiology and were able to attack and destroy most of the lesion using chemicals – this type of treatment was only available at a handful of hospitals in the country, including Boston Children’s.
The budding athlete’s sport future looked dim. Drew was on crutches for over 16 months and not able to put weight on his right leg. In seventh grade he was given full sport clearance, but it was a slow road as his body recovered from injury.
In an interview with the Melrose Weekly News, Drew reflected on that time. “My physical recovery was long and difficult, both physically and emotionally. I was in pain every day for months. It took me months to slowly be able to put weight on my hip leaving me on crutches for about 16 months. I was on crutches and couldn’t stand on my right leg for over a year.”
Coming off of crutches was a big moment for Drew, and though he still limped, he felt independent. “Almost two years after my diagnosis, I was given permission to slowly run again, it felt very weird. I felt like I forgot how to run.”
Drew was released in good health in July of 2015 right before his junior year of high school. Since then, he has made his mark on the varsity sport scene since, earning dual captainship with the MHS golf and MHS baseball teams. Just recently, Drew was able to give blood for the first time. Meanwhile, his body’s ability to heal and recover has led researchers to use information from his case to help other kids with the same type of benign tumors. “The doctors have said it’s amazing to see that I have what looks like a normal hip,” says Drew.
“This whole experience has changed his perspective,” says his mother, Andrea Maguire. “During freshman year he showed me his report card and he said, ‘look it’s perfect.’ It was his perfect attendance he was most proud of.”
The road to Drew’s philanthropy started in the halls of Melrose High School. Thanks to Melrose High School’s student volunteer requirement, Drew had to enlist community volunteer hours during freshman year. Immediately he knew he wanted to help the hospital. His young age prevented him from being able to volunteer at the hospital, but as he became a freshman golfer for Melrose High, he thought of organizing a golf tournament.
Drew did all the work, including drafting fundraising letters, creating logos, gift bags, organizing carts, securing prizes, soliciting hole sponsors and raffles. “The first year I ran this event, I didn’t know anything about running a golf tournament and community fundraiser or how to prepare for a party,” he says. “The hardest parts were when I had to tell people my story in person and ask them to donate to my cause. It wasn’t initially easy to share something personal with someone you don’t know, but that got easier with time.”
And the after-party at the Maguire’s residence was always an annual highlight. And he worked on that too, securing donations of food and street permits, all done in person by Drew to thank donor for their generosity.
“Golf to Give Back” grew to an impressive annual event, drawing over 100 golfers each year. Overall, Drew’s events raised $46,514.20 for the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumor program at Boston Children’s Hospital. The funds raised went to tumor research. His doctor, Megan Anderson, allocated the money specifically to three areas in the tumor program. The money enabled them to compete a research study on the type of lesion and the treatments Drew had (soon to be published). The money also provided a stipend to encourage women and underrepresented minorities in orthopaedics to participate in research in this program. The third project his funds went towards was to investigate quality of life in patients who have different surgical treatments for malignant tumors.
“The experience opened Drew’s eyes to a world he never knew existed,” says his mom, Andrea. “I know he is a better person because of it. He learned so many life skills through this community service project. This tournament was purely a labor of love.”
Meanwhile, Drew flourished as an athlete at Melrose High: becoming a multi-sport letterman, captain of the golf team and baseball team; competing in two sports that are ironically, most associated with hip motion. His freshman year at MHS golf tryouts was the first time he ever walked 18 holes, and that golf season was his first healthy sport season since third grade.
“Drew is a fantastic kid and great leader,” says his golf coach at Melrose High, Rick McDermod. “He did an excellent job taking care of his body and he never used his illness as excuse, and it never interfered with his game.”
His baseball coach Bill Hirschfeld concurs. “How many other kids would do this? He’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached, a hard worker who comes early, stays late. A real role model.”
As a mom, Andrea Maguire is beyond thankful for his rebound. “Drew’s recovery is not only remarkable, it’s miraculous.” She also offers a poignant comparison. “Seeing him run in middle school for the first time was more meaningful than seeing him take his first step.”
Giving back to the Hospital that cured him meant to the world to Drew. “I remember walking through the front doors of the hospital the first time I presented the check and I asked my mom if she realized that this was the first time I came through those doors for something good.”
According to Drew, Boston Children’s Hospital and its staff were incredible. “I feel very connected to Dr. Anderson. The other doctors and medical staff were caring and always tried to make me laugh or feel comfortable. I think the anesthesiologists were some of the best at making me laugh. Dr. Anderson, my main doctor and radiologist Dr. Padua, who performed the treatments were a great team. Dr. Padua was awesome because he made me better through those treatments and Dr. Anderson is someone I trust and ultimately the reason I am where I am today.”
Melrose High School has been beyond supportive too, says his mom, “So many teachers, coaches and students have been a part of these tournaments.They show up, they put in the hours.”
Drew concurs. “I would like to thank the entire Melrose community for being so supportive and helping me run such a successful fundraiser over the past three years. So many people were involved in this event, including family, neighbors, friends, teachers, coaches, businesses and many people that I have never met or seen until my tournament. And of course, this wonderful community event was only possible with the help of my parents, my brother Zach and my sister Ally.”
Now, with a clean bill of health and graduation on the horizon, the future is bright for Drew. At press time, Drew, a stock market guru according to his golf coach, is leaning towards Babson College post-graduation. “My experiences have taught me so many lessons and have shaped me into who I am today,” says Drew. “I’ve learned to never give up and to maintain hope. I learned that test results don’t determine a person’s future, so stay positive and appreciate each milestone you achieve. A positive attitude is essential to a healthy life.”
Look for Drew on the baseball diamond this season for the Melrose Red Raiders.