By Sue Meade
Paulding Neighbor Staff Writer
At 10 years old, Tyler Davis of Dallas had never been on a vacation. He had never known the thrill of an airplane ride or the enriching excitement of seeing sights outside of his own hometown.
All this changed last week when he was chosen as one of seven children and their families to take part in Bert’s Big Adventure — an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, March 7 to 10.
Bert’s Big Adventure, founded by Bert Weiss of the FM radio station Q100, is a new, not-for-profit organization that treats terminally and/or chronically ill children and their families to a magical weekend.
The radio station received 35 applications from families vying for the opportunity. Among them was the letter from Tyler’s parents, Rachel and Terry Davis.
Tyler was born with ectodermal dsyplasia, a genetic disorder that adversely affects his hair, teeth and sweat glands and saps Tyler’s immune system, leaving him vulnerable to serious illness.
“I told them that Tyler had never been on vacation before, so we really wanted him to have this chance. Most of the reason for that is his illness, but it’s also financial,” said Ms. Davis.
Because Tyler is unable to sweat, he is extremely sensitive to heat.
“In the summer, he doesn’t get to participate in hardly anything,” said Ms. Davis. “If he gets overheated, he could get heat-stroke, then go into a coma, so it’s very serious.”
Tyler’s hair is very thin, causing most people to assume he is undergoing chemotherapy.
His skin is also very sensitive and his hands are hot to the touch. There is no cure for this disorder, nor are there any medications to ease the symptoms.
“He only has 10 teeth. The others just never grew in. And the ones he has are conical-shaped, like little vampire-type teeth. They’re capped now, though,” said his mother.
But for three days in Florida, Tyler was treated like a VIP, his mother said.
“It was wonderful,” said Ms. Davis. “Without them, we would never have been able to make this trip.”
Tyler was accompanied the entire time by volunteer medical advisors, Michelle Presley and Caroline Strickland.
On Monday morning, Bert Weiss broadcast “The Bert Show” live from MGM.
“Tyler got to go on the radio live and rapped an Eminem song,” said his mother. “He was thrilled. It was a great experience.”
Weiss said he hopes Bert’s Big Adventure will be an annual event. For more information, visit www.bertsbigadventure.org.
[ From the Neighborhood Newspapers: 3/19/03 ]