Massey Davis of Teague, formerly of Hopkins County, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 6 months.

Former Sulphur Springs resident, battling cystic fibrosis, heading for dream vacation thanks to Make-A-Wish Foundation

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

July 24, 2008 - Massey Davis of Teague, formerly of Hopkins County, will be celebrating his 13th birthday in style, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas. He and his family leave this weekend for a five-day Disney cruise from Florida to Nassau and back.

Massey, parents Nicole and Dusty Davis, brother Austan and sister Gracie will board a plane in Dallas Sunday headed for Port Canaveral, Fla., to begin exploring and having a blast on the ocean he loves and is fascinated by. He'll turn 13 while in Nassau, according to his mom.

"They will spend five days cruising and enjoying fabulous food, Disney character meetings, fun excursions and lots of sunshine. It will truly be an experience filled with treasured memories," wish granter Frances Collier noted.

"We'll leave Port Canaveral, Florida, then head to Castaway Cave where they have the Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit, then to Nassau in the Bahamas and Atlantis Resort for a day excursion," Nicole Davis said. "He's big into the ocean, and there'll be lots of science labs and things like that on the ship."

The Davis family will also view a large aquarium, participate in an archeological "dig" set up like the Lost City of Atlantis, spend an afternoon on the beach and take an excursion on a glass-bottom boat, with time left to schedule other activities, such as the science labs and other stations aboard the Disney Wonder.

Massey and his siblings were so excited about the cruise they packed their bags at the beginning of the week in readiness.

In order to have a wish granted, Make-A-Wish recipients must be children between the ages of 2 12 and 18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Medical eligibility is based on national guidelines and is ultimately determined by the child's physician. The family's financial status is not a factor, and no child who meets program criteria is turned away.

Massey has cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system of 30,000 children and adults in the United States. With cystic fibrosis, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections, obstructs the pancreas, and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website (www.cff.org).

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including very salty-tasting skin; persistent coughing; frequent lung infections; wheezing or shortness of breath; poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite and others.

About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year, and 70 percent of CF patients are identified by age 2. More than 40 percent of CF patients are 18 or older. The predicted lifespan for people with CF is 37 years, according to the CFF.

Massey was diagnosed with CF when he was just 6 months old. Generally, he has to be in the hospital twice a year to receive IV antibiotics and other treatments for respiratory difficulties. He was the first in his family to be diagnosed with CF, but four years ago, his mother found out while pregnant with his sister that Gracie also has CF, Nicole said.

In 2000, Massey had to have a brain tumor removed. It proved to be benign, and he's had no further complications arising from it, according to his mother.

Despite regular treatments for CF, Massey has continued to enjoy a normal life, doing things most kids do -- watching TV, playing video games and listening to music. Massey and his family lived in Hopkins County until 2 years ago, when they moved to Teague. His paternal grandparents,Judy Causey and Ricky Davis, live in Hopkins County, while maternal grandparents Mary and Marty Nolen reside in Yantis.

Massey will be starting seventh grade at Teague Junior High School Aug. 25.

"He has a normal schedule, school, karate lessons and fun stuff on the side. The more active he is the better," Nicole said.

In addition to having a live-threatening medical condition, Make-A-Wish recipients must also be referred to the foundation by someone, usually a medical professional. Massey was referred by the CF Clinic at Children's Hospital in Dallas.

When interviewed for Make A Wish Foundation, wish granter Frances Collier encouraged Massey to "think big" with no limits on anything he'd want to do if he could dream a favorite wish. Collier went back to headquarters with his wish list, and earlier this summer notified Nicole and Dusty Davis their son's greatest wish was being granted.

"We think it's neat. We're glad there are people and programs like Make A Wish that support these causes. The foundation works really well with the families, has been great with us," Nicole said.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of it," Collier said. "It's very rewarding. And the kids, they all have a positive attitude despite their illnesses. We really need wish granters to work with children."

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas grants wishes to children in 30 counties in Northeast Texas, including Hopkins County.

Other area children who have had their favorite wish granted by the foundation include Patrick Collins, Holdan Culpepper, Channing Horton, Kendall Smith and Braydon Smith.

In order to continue granting wishes, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas needs more volunteers and donations. Donations may be as little or as much as a person, organization, family or business has to give, including in-kind matches in some cases.

Volunteer opportunities include wish granting, special events, community relations, corporate fund-raising, public speaking and other essential tasks.

This area is especially in need of wish-granters, volunteers who work directly with local wish children and their families to determine the child's favorite wish, the utilizes Make-A-Wish Foundation resources to make that wish come true.

To find out how to help make the wishes of children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition come true by volunteering or making a donation, call 903-597-9474, or go online to the area Make-A-Wish web site: www.northtexaswish.org for information

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