In this month’s story we will highlight
Independence, Inc. Board Member, Drew Hanson.
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Drew Hanson. I am 28 years old and I was born
with spina bifida. I’ve worked for Integrity Viking Mutual Funds in Minot, ND
for the last 4 years. In my free time, I enjoy sports especially golf, playing
guitar, and spending time with friends and family.
2. In your own words, what is your disability and how does
it affect your life?
Spina bifida is a defect of the spinal cord that affects the
nerves and muscles in my lower limbs. I am extremely lucky, however, because
with the level of severity of my disability, the doctors thought I’d never walk
on my own. With the aid of leg braces, I am able to walk on my own still to
this day. My daily life is affected in the fact that I can’t walk long
distances without getting tired and it is quite the task to get up and get
ready each morning, but I am happy and healthy and living independently in an
apartment in downtown Minot and holding a full time job!
3. Tell us the story of your disability (when did you
acquire your disability, how did it affect your life, your relationships, your
My life with spina
bifida, hasn’t been easy on me or my family. I was always the sibling that got
the most attention because of the care I needed throughout childhood. My
siblings were great, and I’m still BEST friends with my 2 sisters and 1
brother. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have great friends and teachers who
were very understanding and helpful! I won’t lie, some days were tough, knowing
I couldn’t do some of the things my friends were doing because it was too
physically taxing on me. I’ve always wanted to be able to run fast and be great
at sports and that was not easy to take growing up, knowing that I will never
be an outstanding athlete. My brother, Jon, taught me the game of golf when I
first learned how to walk on my own at the age of 3. Every day in the summer we
were outside in our yard hitting golf balls on a mini golf course that my
brother built around the outside of our entire house. He has been the biggest
influence on my life to this day and I would not be here today if it hadn’t
been for him! Through the game of golf, I learned so many life lessons from him
and others I’ve golfed with that are invaluable and I will hold onto until the
day I die. Taking every step, one at a time, and putting one foot in front of
the other is how I get through each day. It’s not always easy, but I know not
everyone has it as good as I do! My family and friends have made the biggest
impact on my life and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world!
4. What are some of the barriers you have overcome that you
are proudest of?
The biggest barrier I overcame was learning how to walk on
my own, against the odds! I take a lot of pride in my ability to walk and I’d
be lying if I said I wasn’t scared for the day that will come when I won’t be
able to walk on my own. The other barrier I’m proud of overcoming was learning
how to golf. When I was learning, there were times when I couldn’t hit the ball
how I wanted to, and there were times when I felt like giving up. However, with
the support of my friends and family, they pushed me and I’ve become a pretty
5. How has Independence, Inc. benefited your life?
I have served on the Board for Independence, Inc. for the
last few months and I’ve made some great friends through the organization. I’m
very thankful and blessed to serve on the Board of THIS organization,
specifically, because its mission is one that I’m very passionate about. I’m
hoping by telling my story it will have an impact on more people with
disabilities to not shy away from their disabilities but to OWN THEM!
6. What message would you like to send to other people with
disabilities in our community?
Independence, Inc. is an awesome organization with great
people dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities overcome any
obstacles they may face on a daily basis. We are very lucky to have an
organization like Independence, Inc. in Minot. I will continue to work hard to
be a voice and an advocate for those with disabilities of any kind and try to
help anyone overcome ANY obstacle, because it wasn’t as easy for me growing up
in the early 90’s with less resources and knowledge on living with a
disability! NOTHING is impossible!