Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Overcoming the Delusion of "Normal": Finding Hope in the Reality of Difference

  • Brandywine High School 1400 Foulk Road Wilmington, DE, 19803 United States

Drew had graduated with honors from the US Air Force Academy in 1994. He was on his way to pilot training when the illness struck, and he was forced to end his military career. Before attending the Academy, he had been valedictorian of his Brandywine High School class and had served as class president during his junior and senior years. Drew was also a kind and compassionate young man, and many within the communities in which he lived loved him. Unfortunately for all of us, Drew’s illness moved faster than his acceptance of it. Although Drew was trained for combat, he was unable to win the battle with Bipolar Disorder -- on January 27, 1996, the illness took his life.Drew’s family and friends, many of whom reside within the Wilmington community, established a memorial fund within New Directions to foster community and professional education to help ease the stigma of mental illness and to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from these debilitating illnesses.With the seed money from Drew’s memorial we took a risk and rented Clayton Hall in April, 1997 and invited noted psychologist and author, Kay Redfield Jamison to speak. It turned out to be our biggest meeting ever, Dr. Jamison spoke to over 800 people and we overflowed Clayton Hall. This program has been offered each year as a service to the Community. While a small admission fee is requested, the program is not a fundraiser.