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Ill teen's wishes come true

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Shane Stevens, 17, doesn't know with any certainty how long he has to live.

But he has an incurable fascination for '57 Chevys and professional sports.

On Friday, he had a chance to do, in his own words, some pretty "cool" stuff.

As part of a day planned by the new Citrus County chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Shane rode from his mother's Ocala home to the Ted Williams Museum in a convertible '57 Chevrolet. There, he met Ted Williams.

The hitting legend walked in shortly after 11, carrying his cane.

"Hello, Shane," he said, towering over him. "How are you, buddy?

"It's sure nice to see you. "It's sure nice to see you.

"How's school?"

"Well," Shane said, "right now I'm not going to school."

He had to explain. Because of a cancerous tumor in his abdomen, Shane had to quit school. Doctors eventually removed the tumor. It could always return, but in the meantime, Shane told Williams, he feels fine.

"You look good," Williams told him.

Shane did look good. Except for his pale face, protected indoors day after day, Shane looked just about like other 17-year-olds.

He arrived wearing a black baseball cap. And when he got out of the Chevy, he did something unusual, according to his mother. He actually took off his hair-crushing cap for a photo, standing next to his 19-year-old brother, Jarrod.

"They've got gorgeous hair," exclaimed their mother, Marcia Stevens, who had ridden with them in one of the two antique cars supplied by the Citrus County Cruisers.

After touring the museum and meeting Williams, Shane was scheduled to dine at Andre's of Citrus Hills, take a boat cruise on the Homosassa River and return home to find another one of his wishes _ a new computer.

Shane had told the Make-A-Wish people he adored '57 Chevys and sports and would like a computer. But when he awoke Friday, his mother said he had no idea what awaited him.

"I had a hard time getting him to dress up," Mrs. Stevens said. "He had quite a surprised look this morning when he walked out of the house and saw the Chevys."

Shane's illness may run in his family. About four years ago, his 3-year-old sister died after doctors removed a rare tumor from between her liver and stomach, the same area where Shane's tumor became apparent about two years ago. His tumor, once the size of a football, was removed. Shane's weight, once a sturdy 185 pounds, dropped to 100 pounds after his operation. Now, after further treatment, his weight has rebounded to 140.

Still, his mother said other medical treatments have lowered the count of platelets in Shane's blood, making it more difficult for his blood to clot if he is cut or bumps into objects.

Often in cases such as his, doctors say the tumor tends to return. His mother is hoping Shane might be different.

"He's really doing well," she said. "So we just keep out fingers crossed."

As Shane sat with Williams, he heard stories of the greatest hitters that ever stepped to the plate, as well as Williams' personal preferences in the art of bat-choosing.

Shane also told a story himself, of the Little League days, back when he could exercise.

"My first at-bat, I got up," he said. "At the leftfield fence, it wasn't a fence, it was just woods.

"I hit it into the woods."

It was a home run.

But after he stepped on home plate, the umpire deflated the moment: Shane hadn't stepped on first base, he said. It was no home run.

"Whew, hew, hew," Williams said. "That's something."

That story was the most Shane revealed. Much of the time, while he toured the museum and watched a video about great hitters, he folded his arms or puckered his lips to one side or the other.

His mannerisms revealed him as a typical teenage boy with hopes, heroes and a bit of reticence.

But on this day, he was to be special. He left with two bags filled with baseball goodies _ a signed framed photo of Williams, a limited edition watch, collector baseballs, pendants, posters, caps and other items that can make young _ or old _ boys excited.

As the car carrying Shane rolled away, memories of his visit remained with those there.

Watching the video inside the museum, Shane heard Williams _ on screen _ tell one reason for founding the museum. Williams said he hoped that the place might be more than just a room filled with old mementos _ that it might, he said, offer "a chance to inspire a kid, keep him going."