Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
Favaughn Germaine is bound to be the envy of other teenage boys after meeting not only a pro wrestler in Florida, but a parliament of "Hooters"-- the buxom kind that serves hot wings and tends to put a smile on an adolescent's face.
"The Hooters manager was going to take a photo with him, but decided to round up the girls instead," said Carline Lamour, Germaine's mother. "He wears braces and his face was just gleaming from smiling. He told us his favorite color is orange."
It isn't often that Germaine is the envy of anyone. The 13-year-old Pointe South Middle School student suffers from sickle cell illness, a life-threatening disease that keeps him from being able to enjoy the same things other boys his age do.
"He can't do contact sports," said his mother. "He played baseball one time, but he has to be careful. He likes to swim, too, but he has to warm up after, in a hot bath, because the cold water can cause a health crisis for him."
Despite his limitations, Germaine enjoys many of the same things other boys do, including professional wrestling. This is where Kids Wish Network comes in. The non-profit organization grants wishes to sick kids. Lamour has long supported the group with private donations, but was surprised at the extent to which they made her son feel so special.
"I didn't know they would do much to go above and beyond the call of duty for my son," she said. "They were really nice."
When the disease flares up, it often means a trip to the hospital. It pains her to watch her son suffer with inflamed joints and agonizing pain. At Thanksgiving, his stomach distended, making it impossible to walk.
"He had to crawl to get around," she said. "To see your child in pain, having to get shots, other medicines, it's hard. We don't like hospital stays."
Treatments also mean that Germaine struggles to keep up with his classmates, too. He wants to be a pediatrician.
"We think he's going to finish the school year OK," said Lamour. "We'll know in about two weeks when the school year ends."
For a few days, Germaine was able to set aside doctors, hospitals, tests and shots to meet his favorite pro wrestler, John Morrison, and see the sights around Tampa. He and his mom toured the Florida Aquarium and took a pirate cruise around the bay.
"It was awesome, a wonderful experience I'll never forget," said Germaine.
Lamour, a single mother, who has worked 11 years as a corrections officer at the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, can't say enough about the organization.
"This was the most exciting and beautiful thing," she said. "I thought they would just let him meet the wrestler, I had no idea we'd be doing all this other stuff. This is a good organization for kids."