Tony knew since he was four years old that he would join the military. At age 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and proudly served a 4-year tour on active duty. He was a civilian attending college when the Gulf War started. Tony redeployed to join Operation Desert Storm. On February 25th, 1991, after being in Saudi Arabia for only a week, the barracks where Tony was living was destroyed by the direct impact of an Iraqi Scud missile; 28 people died, including one of Tony’s best friends. Shrapnel hit Drees in the thighs, shattering the femur of his right leg and blowing the backs off both legs. Doctors told him they were going to have to remove his right leg, but he refused. He spent nine months in the hospital undergoing 58 surgeries, followed by three months of grueling physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Eventually, shrapnel infection and a cancerous tumor that had wrapped around his femur mandated the ultimate loss from his war injury. Doctors amputated his right leg in February of 2018. Tony thus experienced a total of 74 surgeries since the day he survived the bombing. Tony completed both his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and his Masters of Management Degree with the University of Phoenix. He was recognized for Diversity and Military Empowerment impact at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards for Education. Tony was awarded with the Purple Heart for his service. Tony is an ambassador for Move United.
- A Test of Strength: The Sport of Para Lifting
- The New USA Wheelchair Football League
- Warfighter Christy Gardner Excelling at Multiple Sports
- Sport Changed Casey Followay’s Life
- New Book Highlights History of Wheelchair Basketball
- “Rising Phoenix” Documentary Puts Spotlight on Paralympic Games
- Vision 2028, Upcoming Adaptive Sports Opportunities, and more
The benefits are immeasurable, emotionally and physically. It’s a jumpstart to living and enjoying a new life!
TAI CLEVELAND, Wounded Warrior