For Andrew Wernicke, sports, like life, came naturally. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it was clear from a young age that he was a natural athlete. Incredibly gifted at both soccer and baseball, Andrew was able to throw 50 miles per hour by the age of nine. He was as gifted off the field as he was on it; he was smart as a whip and full of wit, always ready with a funny one-liner. A good soul and a warm spirit, the sky was the limit for Andrew who enjoyed living his life to the fullest every single day.
A Long Road Ahead
On May 22, 2010, after suffering from persistent headaches for five to six months, Andrew was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the young age of 11, he always had the mindset that he was going to make it. Even after his first run with chemotherapy, his confidence and “can do” attitude never wavered. Each time the cancer came back, his body weakened a little more; and yet, Andrew never once stopped fighting. Through multiple brain surgeries, continuous chemotherapy and radiation, he persevered.
In 2015, Andrew was hit with encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. He had to relearn everything from walking to talking, even remembering the people he loved. As was always the case, however, Andrew continued to fight and refused to give up. Andrew simply wanted to live life and he wouldn’t let any diagnosis get in his way.
A Bleak Prognosis
In 2017, however, Andrew found another hurdle placed in his way: cancer had spread into his spinal cord. He was given just five to six months to live. Andrew’s journey would lead him to San Francisco, California; Augusta, Georgia; and Seattle, Washington. In two of the cancer trials he participated in, Andrew was the first participant in the entire country.
Though his treatment demanded constant cross-country travel, Andrew wouldn’t quit. According to the doctors in Wisconsin, Andrew was the longest living survivor in the United States. Throughout it all, Andrew never once complained. He never once felt sorry for himself and was always patient. Andrew would go on to live for five more years.
Throughout his entire battle, Andrew remained a beacon of light for others. Ever the definition of bravery and courage, he quickly became a hero and inspiration to others. Not only did Andrew continue to fight an increasingly tough battle, but he also made the lives of others around him that much better. He graduated high school and attended college, all the while fighting cancer that wouldn’t stay away. Simply put, Andrew Wernicke loved life and nothing would stop him from living it.
In May of 2020, Andrew suffered a series of strokes that left him unable to walk. Yet again, he fought relentlessly, fiercely, to the very end. In total, cancer came back six times. On May 6, 2022, after a courageous 12-year battle with cancer, Andrew Wernicke passed away. He was just 23 years old.
Along the way, Andrew and the Wernicke family were blessed by the help and support of incredible foundations such as the Dear Jack Foundation, Lazarex Cancer Foundation, Angel Flight and the Ronald McDonald House. Angel Flight flew Andrew and his father Dean to and from Seattle for his chemotherapy.
Andrew also developed personal friendships with PGA Tour golfer Tommy Fleetwood, along with several MLB and NFL players. He also enjoyed a meaningful friendship with Ryan Braun along with other supportive members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Andrew Wernicke Annual Courage Open
The first annual Andrew Wernicke Annual Courage Golf Open is being held on Saturday, August 20th at Silver Spring Country Club in Menomonee Falls, WI. The purpose is to have some competitive fun, to honor Andrew and also to raise money for families who are currently going through what Andrew and the Wernicke family endured over their 12-year journey. The family is also in the process of creating the Andrew Wernicke Courage Foundation to help others just as the aforementioned foundations helped them.
Sports and life often overlap. In both, courage and bravery come in many forms; nobody embodied this better than Andrew Wernicke. Live like Andrew — always be patient, never give up, help others and live life to the fullest.
Want to learn more about how you can help? First, please share this article to spread the word about Andrew and the annual golf outing being held in his honor. Second, please visit the websites below to learn more and donate to the various foundations that have helped Andrew Wernicke and so many others every year: