Monday, January 22, 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
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hooper: Deal with sea-level rise or prepare to be inundated

When fans again flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard for the annual Gasparilla Festival on Saturday, I hope they ask a question: Will the floats need flotation devices in 2035?Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Astrid Caldas and Kate Cell, members of the Union ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

A warm weekend across Tampa Bay will carry over into the start of the workweek, after some morning fog burns off and before a front results in clouds and increased rain chances later this afternoon.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa...
Updated: 2 hours ago

The Daystarter: PolitiFact Florida analyzes prison costs; breaking down the Super Bowl matchup; free dental clinic services in high demand; Arrrrr you ready for Gasparilla?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• We’ll have a mild and sunny start to the week, with highs in the upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP. A weak cold front brings a chance of rain on Tuesday and slightly coo...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police: 2 IEDs detonated at a Florida mall, no injuries

LAKE WALES — Police say two improvised explosive devices ignited inside a mall in central Florida on Sunday do not appear to be an act of terrorism.Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

Advocates of Florida prisoners protested outside of the Florida Department of Corrections in Tallahassee on Tuesday, demanding answers to questions of alleged price-gouging in prisons across the state.Protesters from dozens of grass roots organizatio...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 8 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 9 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 9 hours ago