On April 27, 2004, Andy was in eastern Kansas covering a high school softball game for his part-time job as a sportswriter when he began to feel ill. He started getting chills and broke out into a cold sweat. When Andy woke up the next morning he felt worse. He was nauseous and disoriented and a rash that looked like thousands of small purple spots had broken out on his arms and legs. When he tried to get out of bed he found that he couldn’t walk because it hurt his feet.
His friend Clay insisted that Andy go to the student health center where the doctor on call saw the rash and suspected blood poisoning due to meningitis. An hour later Andy was at the local hospital, and shortly after that he was in a helicopter, being airlifted to University of Kansas Medical Center. After spending three weeks in a drug-induced coma Andy underwent a series of skin grafts and amputations. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital, and to this day continues with outpatient rehabilitation.
Andy received his degree in journalism while still in the hospital, however, he returned to the University of Kansas a year later to participate in graduation ceremonies and give the commencement address for the school of journalism. Despite his amputations, Andy maintains an active lifestyle with little or no assistance.
Throughout the night, his symptoms progressed – he threw up repeatedly, was unable to move, and developed a purplish rash all over his arms and legs. Early the next morning, his roommate rushed him to a local hospital. Hours later he was on a life-flight to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His family rushed to UNMC where he was read his last rites and was given a 10 percent chance of survival. He survived, but lost 65 pounds and was left with scars all over his arms and legs. He underwent intense physical therapy, but today he has made a comeback and is now a wrestling coach at Northwestern College in Iowa. Among the students he coaches is another bacterial meningitis survivor, Preston, who survived at age 6 and lost both legs to the disease.