In our wonderful community we have always rallied around those who have lost children too young. It’s happening too often. Please join me in placing a kelly green bow on your mailbox to remind Drew’s family of our support. Drew’s mom chose kelly green because it is the standard color for mental illness awareness. Drew attended Dunwoody High School with the class of 2015 who also lost Maura Binkley recently. Please pray for Drew’s family and friends.
With great sadness we announce the passing of Andrew Joseph D’Alessandro on Friday February 22, 2019. Andrew was born on July 25, 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia at Northside Hospital. He attended Vanderlyn Elementary School, Peachtree Middle School, and Dunwoody High School.
Drew was fun-loving and energetic, enjoying games of all kinds. Baseball at Murphey-Candler, football with the Atlanta Colts, and the Dunwoody High cross-country team – he was MVP in the eighth grade. He was born to climb; whether it was the refrigerator when he was a toddler or a mountain when he was twenty. He loved Stone Summit and climbed with their team for a season. He loved the outdoors. On family hikes, you could count on finding Drew at the top of a tree or racing to the top of the mountain. He was always the first to reach the top of Stone Mountain and the first back down, climbing with his Pop and Grandma. Snowboarding with his dad and sister was one of his greatest loves. So was Cape Cod; playing in the ocean, fishing, and building bonfires with Papa Nick, Nana, his Bostonian aunts, uncles and cousins. In his free time, Drew enjoyed shooting hoops and skateboarding around the neighborhood.
Drew was intellectual, philosophical and creative. He qualified for his high school honors program and favored his PoliSci classes. He was a deep thinker, although few knew it. He was widely read, most recently Pressfield’s Gates of Fire and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. He loved science fiction, particularly Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. He hoped to be a chef, and a magician on the side. He embraced diverse music from country and rock to alternative and rap. He got in trouble at preschool for singing a line from Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Always on the move, he was an amateur breakdancer. He thoughtfully chose Christmas gifts that were quirky but perfect. He spent much time with his family in Atlanta playing cards. Drew’s zest for life overflowed family gatherings and he never missed the opportunity to challenge his uncles and cousins to a race. He collected souvenir pins from places he or family traveled. He wanted to see the world, especially if it could be on a motorcycle. Growing up, Drew lamented that he was the only boy in the world without a dog. Goose, a pointer-beagle mix, recently came into his life and he was able to enjoy her unconditional love and wet kisses.
Andrew is survived by his mother, Colleen Donaldson; father, Michael D’Alessandro (Jean); sister, Anna D’Alessandro; step-brother, Justin; grandparents, Earl and Patricia Donaldson, Nicholas and Eileen D’Alessandro; uncles, Earl Donaldson Jr. and children Margaret and Lucy, and their mother Terri; John Donaldson (Lori) and children James (Danielle), Daniel, Thomas, Nathan; David Donaldson (Mike Daly); Mark D’Alessandro (Kleber Assis); aunts, Lisa Buckman (Paul) and children Nicholas (Eliza), Patrick (fiance Kelsey), Lauren Massey (Tyler); Lynn Camarada (Mark) and son, Cross.
Drew spent the last four years wrestling addiction and the onset of mental illness. We didn’t understand it, we fought it, and we fought each other. Finally, Drew couldn’t fight any more and heroin stole him. We are grateful he came home – as hard as it was to find him, we were able to know where he was and be near him. Drew was a great son, brother, grandson, cousin, and friend – he laughed and cared – he was a remarkable young man. Four years of dealing with this addiction and the mental health challenges took its toll. Addiction is an abominable disease and drains the life from all it touches. Mental health disorders are misunderstood and often feared.
We want to honor Drew and give hope to families who are navigating addiction and mental illness, especially behind closed doors. It is too big and hard to face without hope. Our family was assisted by several organizations. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to:
● Al-Anon, a worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of those struggling with addiction. (The Al-anon and AA traditions state that every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.) If you are not a member and would like to honor Drew by donating to battle addiction, please visit Andrew’s memorial on Shatterproof.
● National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for anyone affected by mental illness.
● Kingswood United Methodist Church – Andrew loved basketball with Papa, youth with Mr. George, and working at the Hinton Rural Life Center with Mr. Art. The sanctuary was ‘like going to the woods.”
● And lastly, The Atlanta Humane Society https://atlantahumane.org/
The family will welcome visitors, Thursday February 28, 6:00-8:00 pm at Patterson’s Funeral Home, Peachtree Industrial Rd. A Celebration of Life service will be Saturday, March 2, 1 PM at Kingswood United Methodist Church, Dunwoody.