Andrey Cawley

Overcoming difficulty.
by Dominic Airola and John Cashin | Source: Good News

Andrey Cawley appears a “happy-go-lucky” guy. He is always smiling and gets along well with everyone. Just looking at Andrey, you wouldn’t realize that things weren’t always so bright.

Andrey was born in Russia with a severe handicap in both of his legs. “The hardest and most difficult time of my life was living in the orphanage in Russia, with no friends at all,” Andrey says. “I spent time wondering when I would be able to get out. Would I have to wait until I was eighteen to get a job working in a factory with a messed up leg?”

Life in Russia was hard. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were soup and bread, although he did get a little extra for his disability. Life in the orphanage was not easy either. As Andrey says, “When I was young, the kids made fun of me and I had no friends, but I had to ignore them so that it wouldn’t get to my head.”

After his adoption when he was five and half, things started to get better. He had an operation in Russia to straighten out his legs, and it was easier for him to walk. He had casts on both legs for a year, and later he had to have both of his hamstrings cut.

Shortly after his operations, Andrey’s parents took him on a trip to England. After the trip, they came to America. Getting started in America was tough too because Andrey spoke only Russian.

He had to repeat first grade because of the language barrier. First he attended St. Nicholas in Texas, later he moved to Arkansas for grades one through seven. When the family came back to Texas and, Andrey arrived at St. Thomas More School.
Andrey was accepted immediately. He fit in well with the students. No one cared about his disabilities, and he did not let it hold him back. During the winter, he joined the Varsity boy’s basketball team. When asked about the experience Andrey said, “Yes I enjoyed it, but I would have liked more playing time!” He was quite good at basketball -  a wonderful shooter and a good addition to the team. What stuck out the most was his joy – he seemed to be always smiling and laughing.
Although Andrey Cawley has had a trying life, he has not given up. I will always remember him as a wonderful member of our school and community, but most of all as a good friend.

Dominic Airola, was one of Andrey’s classmates at St. Thomas More School.

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