DUNEDIN — Ryan Cunningham took a liking to Ozzy Osbourne when he was in kindergarten. His father would pop in a Black Sabbath CD as he drove him to school.
The song that snagged Cunningham's attention was Iron Man.
"We had to play it over and over and over," said David Cunningham, laughing. "And I mean every day."
Ryan Cunningham's enthusiasm for Ozzy has not waned. And when the 7-year-old with cystic fibrosis was asked if he could have one wish come true, what would it be. He replied: "See Ozzy Osbourne."
The wish will come true.
The Children's Dream Fund is sending Ryan and his parents to the Ozzfest 2008 concert in Frisco, Texas. The Cunninghams will get the chance to spend time with Osbourne outside of Saturday's concert.
"I want to give him a hug," Ryan Cunningham said, sitting in his living room with a huge smile on his face.
And of course he will be wearing his custom T-shirt that says "I'm your No. 1 fan."
Started 20 years by a group of St. Petersburg Jaycees, Children's Dream Fund fulfills dreams for children ages 3-18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
The organization serves children living in 20 counties in West Central Florida.
"This is awesome,'' said Cathy Cunningham, Ryan's mother. "I can't say enough about CF, All Children's Hospital and Children's Dream Fund. To make a kid's dream come true, I just can't say enough and we are touched that we are privileged to be apart of this."
Ryan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 8 months old.
The rising second-grader at Garrison-Jones Elementary takes nearly 30 pills a day. Cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs, preventing them from clearing out mucus. It also disturbs the digestive track. At each meal, Ryan takes eight enzyme pills. He often drinks protein drinks instead of eating meals.
The only time he doesn't have to take pills before a meal is when he's eating a freeze pop, Ryan joyfully interjected.
"When he's feeling great, it's wonderful," David Cunningham said. "But when he's not …. We've had a really good time since December."
Sure, Ryan still loves Sponge Bob, and Tuesday as he readied for a big party to announce his trip to Texas, he watched Johnny Test on the Cartoon Network and played with his bearded dragon named AJ with a couple of neighborhood friends.
But pinned to his bedroom wall is a Black Sabbath T-shirt that neighbor Eric Dexter found at a thrift store. And ask him who his favorite musical groups are, you get: "Ozzy, Metallica, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Pink Floyd.".
"But my favorite, favorite Ozzy song is Gets me through."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.