Resides: St Petersburg, FL
Hometown: St Petersburg, FL
Involvement with HFGF: “As Long As I Can Remember”
A Hemophilia Foundation of Greater Florida scholarship recipient with aspirations to become a pediatric physician, Andrew Farren is pumped about what lies ahead as he enters his second year at St. Petersburg College.
“It’s exciting,” says the 19-year-old, who battles severe Hemophilia A. “I am pretty happy where I am now. I am just trying to be my best self and learn.”
Diagnosed a couple of days after birth, Andrew is not only using the collegiate platform to better himself, but this summer he added camp counselor to his dossier, volunteering time at Camp Boggy Creek for four separate week-long sessions, working with kids affected by sickle cell, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and blood disorders.
“I love it,” he says. “The kids are incredible.”
This was Andrew’s first foray as a counselor; he spent nine years attending HFGF’s Camp Spirit at Boggy Creek as a camper. He says the memories of being at Camp Spirit come flooding back as a volunteer.
“My most moving experience was helping these kids self-infuse and having them practice on me,” he says. “It made me think of my first time at camp. It was really full circle. As a camper, I remember how we didn’t talk about disorders. It was just a mutual understanding. I love the spirit of the place and all the incredible people who volunteer and work there. I met some of my best friends through the camp. I really appreciate the Foundation and everything they do for me.”
Growing up, Andrew says he always felt like something was missing. His friends were active and played sports; he did not. He tried baseball in high school, but a leg injury put an end to that.
“There were definitely some sad times, but not to a bad extent. But knowing I was different than the people around me was always in the back of my head. When my friends would talk sports, I felt a distance between them and me.
“You grow up faster,” he continues. “Kids would talk about doing teen things, reckless things. It was always weird for me. I didn’t feel the same way they did. I do think it’s that distance that has something to do with growing up faster. Sometimes I wish I would have had that childhood experience.”
True, Andrew’s younger days were dotted with missing school from bleeds and the feeling of being an outsider.
“One day I was fine, the next day I could hardly walk, then the next day fine,” he recalls. “It was really hard to explain to people.” Andrew didn’t hide the fact he had hemophilia, he just didn’t bring it up.
“I was always kind of indifferent about it. Not super open, but I did enjoy talking about it if asked.”
Today, the college student and camp counselor, who has learned to appreciate the positives in his life and not dwell on the past, continues to take that enjoyment and enlighten others along the way.
“I use my disorder, and what I have learned, to teach others,” he says. “I like the teaching aspect.”