UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

UND to host Army veteran, motivational speaker Tony Drees on Nov. 8

Drees, a Purple Heart recipient and adaptive athlete, grew up in Grand Forks and attended UND

Tony Drees with dog
Tony Drees will be at the Memorial Union on Wednesday, Nov. 8, to speak in recognition of Veterans Day. Image courtesy of Tony Drees.

The University of North Dakota will be hosting Tony Drees, a former UND student and U.S. Army Purple Heart recipient, to speak in recognition of Veterans Day.

Drees will be speaking in the Memorial Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.

During his presentation, “No Lies, No Excuses, Never Quit,” Drees will show his award-winning film, “One For All,” and talk about leadership, accessibility, equity and service in relation to the UND LEADS Strategic Plan.

After growing up in Grand Forks, including graduating from Red River High School, Drees went on to serve in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm.

In the deadliest missile attack of the war, which claimed the lives of 28 U.S. soldiers on Feb. 25, 1991, Drees was among the nearly 100 injured. The injuries to his right leg were especially severe, and over the next nine months, Drees underwent 58 surgeries.

Drees eventually was able to “jog out of the hospital,” as he puts it, though his leg still suffered from the effects of the missile attack. Then years later, a cancer diagnosis plus the lingering effects of Drees’ injuries required an amputation of the leg at the hip.

After his Operation Desert Storm injury, Drees came back to Grand Forks and attended UND. He then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix.

In 2015, Drees was involved in a campaign for the University of Phoenix that received recognition at the NAACP Image Awards. The collaboration resulted in an initiative granting 40 full-tuition scholarships to underserved Black students.

From 2017 to 2019, Drees was executive director for Veterans Passport 2 Hope, a Colorado nonprofit. Drees helped the organization raise nearly $1.5 million, helping more than 17,000 veterans and their families.

Today, Drees is a full-time motivational speaker, life coach and adaptive athlete, representing several national organizations. He earned two gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2019 National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games.

For more on Drees, visit his website.