The ambitious goal of the Drew Crew to collect a million cans and bottles

For Drew Clayborn, adaption has been the mantra he lives by. 

So when 2020 threw a coronavirus-size wrench at his efforts to help those fighting paralysis, he did what he does best; adapt.

Like most events scheduled for this year, they didn't happen. At least, not in the way they were supposed to. Music festivals were canceled, birthday parties were turned into neighborhood drivebys, and artists took their events into the virtual world.

For Clayborn's annual fundraising event, he and the 'Drew Crew' repackaged the Charity Golf Scramble into a bottle collection drive fit for a pandemic.

"We have easily another 30,000 (cans and bottles) here," said Clayborn. And that's on top of the 40,000 returnables already collected.

"This just came about and because of the quarantine and everybody being home, we were able to capitalize on the fact that everybody was just sitting on their cans and bottles," he said.

When grocery stores became some of the only businesses allowed open, their recycling centers weren't part of the plan. That left thousands of residents at home, some with plenty of time for leisure, and nowhere to recycle their cans. 

That's when Clayborn and 60 volunteers went into action.

"I couldn't believe all the traveling that he did all over metro Detroit," said Jennifer Klein, a volunteer. "Picking up the bottles with his trailer and all the people coming here and dropping them off, it's pretty amazing."

"It's extremely heartwarming to know that everybody is here to help me, to help us, and to make sure that our goal is met for this year of reaching a million cans." said Clayborn.

Clayborn himself is confined to a wheelchair. After a backflip stunt for a musical went wrong and he broke his back 10 years ago, Clayborn became paralyzed. 

"Everyone cares about me, cares about my family, and cares about our mission enough to help others with spinal cord injuries and to help myself," he said, "to show you can live life with a spinal cord injury, it's amazing."

What's next for the Drew Crew is boosting the message to those interested in helping. Clayborn is asking everyone to save their bottles and cans over the winter. When the time comes, Clayborn or one of the many volunteers hard at work will come pick them up.