Wednesday, July 18, 2018
News Roundup

Community comes together to give boy with cystic fibrosis a birthday bash

VALRICO

Christopher Carmen Jr. is like any 5-year-old boy.

He wears green light-up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sandals and his cheeks get flushed when he runs on the playground at All Person's Rotary Park.

His mother, Trisha Duffy of Valrico, wipes mud off his forehead as his deep blue eyes search for a new adventure.

A wet cough is what separates him from other children at his school. It's a symptom of his cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes mucus buildup in his lungs and pancreas that make it hard for him to breathe.

The disease has caused him to be hospitalized and miss more than 65 days of kindergarten last year, his mother said. That has made it hard for him to make friends and an easy target for bullying at Nelson Elementary School.

"As a mom, that just breaks your heart because there's nothing I can do," says Duffy, a stay-at-home mother. "No child should be made fun of."

With Christopher turning 6 on Aug. 7, his 29-year-old mom couldn't stand the thought of her oldest son having a birthday with no friends. So a few weeks ago, she took to a Facebook group and asked other moms with children battling CF to write birthday cards to her son. She wanted to show Christopher that he was not alone and he had friends.

"The response I got in two hours was amazing," she said. "I couldn't keep up."

Within days her post went viral and other Facebook groups in Tampa were sending her son cards. The charity arm of one group, the Chive, is organizing a birthday bash.

"Here at Chive Tampa, one of our goals is to make everyone feel like they are part of this world," said Chive member Colleen Hennessy, who is part of the effort.

Sharks are Christopher's favorite animal, so that will be the party's theme. It will be held on the Pop Warner football and cheerleading field at 707 S Miller Road. The Cruz Brothers band and disc jockey Jeff Brockman will provide music, and there will be food, costumed superheroes, pinatas, water guns and temporary shark tattoos, Hennessy said.

"This has touched so many people because this could be their child," she said. "It's great how these kind of things bring people together."

Christopher, who's missing his front two baby teeth, can't stop smiling. He knows he'll get to share a birthday with friends. He said he's excited to talk to them about sharks.

"I like great white, hammerhead and Megalodon sharks," he said. One day he hopes to work at an aquarium.

His mother and father, Chris Carmen, are happy for Christopher. The past year was tough on the family.

Because of his long stay in Tampa General Hospital, Christopher missed so much school that he'll have to repeat kindergarten this fall.

And even without having to pay $30,000 a month for Christopher's medicine thanks to insurance, the family of five is living on one income — Christopher's father works at the Amazon warehouse in Ruskin. The family now lives with Duffy's mother, but hopes to find a home they can afford that is big enough for all of them.

For now, she's taking it day-by-day and looking forward to showing her son that he is not alone in his battle.

"I really love the fact that we have this close community," she said. "There's still love out there, with all the hate out there in the world."

Contact Ariana Figueroa at [email protected] or (813) 226-3350. Follow @ArianaLFigueroa.

     
       
Comments
Lakeland teen, 15, killed in Dade City crash

Lakeland teen, 15, killed in Dade City crash

DADE CITY — A Lakeland teen was killed Tuesday night and a Lake Wales teen was critically injured in a crash on U.S. 301.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 17-year-old Abigail Nicole Trammel, of Lake Wales, was driving a 2002 Ford Explorer west...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Residents use technological solution to combat tech-created problem: theft by porch pirates

Residents use technological solution to combat tech-created problem: theft by porch pirates

TAMPA — Four packages landed on the porch of a Palma Ceia home one day last month. Inside were shoes and supplies for a children’s birthday party. At 4:52 p.m. on a Friday, a man in a white hat calmly gathered up the brown boxes.Then he drove away fr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Cross-Bay Ferry is one step closer; about Snell’s All-Star outing; solving crime one app at a time

The Daystarter: Cross-Bay Ferry is one step closer; about Snell’s All-Star outing; solving crime one app at a time

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Rinse and repeat for another hot July day: Overnight showers will hit the coast in the morning and move inland over the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Leaky septic tanks fuel algae blooms. Rick Scott OK’d repeal of law aimed to prevent that

Leaky septic tanks fuel algae blooms. Rick Scott OK’d repeal of law aimed to prevent that

With toxic algae blooms now erupting all over Florida — from the St. Johns River to Lake Okeechobee as well as on both coasts — scientists are pointing a finger at one likely fuel source: pollution from leaking septic tanks.There are more than 2.6 mi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
SEC media days: Why Martez Ivey says this is the year Florida Gators’ offense clicks again

SEC media days: Why Martez Ivey says this is the year Florida Gators’ offense clicks again

ATLANTA — Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey knew the question was coming Tuesday during SEC media days.Is this the year the offense gets cranked up?"This is the only time I'm going to answer this question again," Ivey said. "Thi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

What had been a three-day feel-good All-Star celebration of baseball ended in some controversy on Tuesday night with Brewers reliever Josh Hader apologizing for a series of tweets from 2011-12 that contained racist, sexist and homophobic comments."Th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Rough Riders help restore Cuban monuments to their namesake

Tampa Rough Riders help restore Cuban monuments to their namesake

Theodore Roosevelt and his cavalry unit known as the Rough Riders sailed from Tampa to Cuba in June 1898 to help that nation defeat Spain.To honor the Rough Riders’ heroics, Cuba erected two monuments near its city of Santiago.Now, more than a centur...
Published: 07/18/18
Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Not that many years ago, downtown Safety Harbor was a little lean on places to eat. Green Springs Bistro had been an anchor, Whistle Stop and Cello’s Char House, too. But no one would have called it a dining destination. It was too bad: The city of 1...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

There are many good reasons to eat at four or five places in one night. A near overwhelming number of new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area can provoke anxiety in a certain kind of diner, the one who wants to try everything but doesn’t have the funds...
Published: 07/18/18
Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Five or six years ago, if you were to stand on the steps of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and look north along the Hillsborough River, there wouldn’t be much to see. Just a couple of old warehouses and some rubble in the area ...
Published: 07/18/18