The Inspiring Story of Patrick Andrews, a Walking Miracle
Patrick Andrews walks Liberty’s campus with a contagious smile and palpable excitement for life that he credits to almost losing that life nearly three decades ago.
Andrews climbed into the backseat of his friend’s car on March 24, 1994, and while riding along a road he had been down countless times before, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him in a coma for a month and a half.
Although he miraculously came out of the coma, Andrews’ family waited patiently for six weeks to hear him speak again — a moment Andrews remembers being confused by.
“I love to talk, but for six weeks I said nothing. I didn’t realize I wasn’t talking,” Andrews said. “I suddenly had no understanding of why in the world me saying anything was any big deal.”
That milestone stands out as the first of many as Andrews began his almost four-year recovery, undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy first in Richmond, Virginia, and then back in his home city of Austin, Texas.
Andrews’ family told him that founder and president of Liberty Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. said that Andrews would be able to return to Liberty for free if and when he was able. This promise gave Andrews a new lease on life as he desperately missed his classmates and the school he considered home.
Andrews admitted that there were moments during his recovery process where he feared the people at Liberty had forgotten about him in his absence.
“It was a really unpleasant time. I wanted so badly to be with my friends,” Andrews said. “Community is what Liberty is about, and to not be a part of this abundant community really was extremely hard.”
In January 1998, Andrews finally returned to Lynchburg, and at 21 years old, he moved into the senior dorms where he would begin his 14-year journey of getting a degree in communications. Though overjoyed to be back in Virginia, Andrews still encountered many difficulties as he settled back into “normal life.”
“The naivety that accompanied me while I was recovering from this traumatic brain injury doesn’t float so well in this world. Praise the Lord that God chose to reacclimate me back into real life through Liberty,” Andrews said.
Andrews was enrolled in classes at the Liberty Bible Institute and remembers being excited to see Jerry Falwell Sr. speak every Wednesday at Convocation. Andrews still thanks Falwell for his ability to attend Liberty.
Andrews recalls opening a box of clothing given to the students at the Liberty Bible Institute and finding a blinding neon orange shirt among the clothes. He picked it out of the box and knew he had to wear it at Convocation so Falwell would be able to spot him from the stage.
I will be a Liberty Flame until I die.Patrick Andrews
“Nobody could miss a person wearing that shirt,” Andrews said. “I’m a very outgoing person, so the orange and the outgoingness sort of gelled.”
Andrews faithfully made his way to the front every Wednesday after Convocation and thanked Falwell for the school he loved. Although he does not wear the shirt anymore, it remains one of the key ties he still feels to Falwell. Andrews is in the process of writing a book about his recovery, the title of which he pulled from one of Falwell’s famous quotes, “Never never never quit!”
While he was alive, Falwell made it a habit to drive around campus in his black Suburban. Andrews describes it as having a big train horn which he frequently heard as Falwell drove by. Andrews remembered once when he was 30 and living in an apartment near campus, Falwell noticed him walking, pulled his truck over and, in a deep voice Andrews mimics with a smile, said, “Hop in!”
“The most important thing Liberty has done for me is show me that my faith is not isolated to just me. There are thousands of other people who share my faith. There is nothing like the community of Liberty, and there will never be anything like it,” Andrews said.
Andrews now works in the Studio and Digital Arts Department, acting as a drawing model for classes and doing essentially anything professors or faculty need, such as setting up displays or monitoring the gallery.
Andrews remains beyond grateful for the way God spared his life all those years ago and chooses to remain positive every moment he gets the chance. His gratitude transcends into the daily practices of using his voice to say hello to everyone he sees and intentionally parking far away from buildings so that he can use the gift of walking.
“I couldn’t walk for weeks at all, and now I force myself to walk as much as I can. I just laugh in the face of the devil,” Andrews said.
Andrews says the campus looks almost nothing like it used to when he was a student here in the ‘90s, but he recognizes that what makes Liberty Liberty is not the buildings, but the people.
“I will be a Liberty Flame until I die,” Andrews said.