An idea takes form
The Davenport family was the inspiration, so it was only fitting they be the first recipient.
The Davenports, Jessica and Kyle along with children Kruz and Paizlee, were scheduled to visit the beaches of Gulf County last year until a medical emergeny and surgery arose just days before departing from their Muscle Shoals, AL. home.
They were forced to cancel, but their dilemma, a desperately sick child forcing cancellation of a vacation, became the kernel of an idea in Silvia Williams, who operates Serenity Beach Rentals in Port St. Joe.
“I literally could not stop thinking about them, praying about them,” Williams said. “For a week or two I was up at night praying for them.
“I think, maybe, because I am a mom. It touches your heart that these people are dealing with such a difficult situation with their children.”
At that time, Williams was already in the process of designing a T-shirt to provide to her visitors.
“People want to take something back with them to remember their trip,” Williams said.
The T-shirt became the foundation of an effort Williams launched to annually provide a four-day free stay to a family with a child facing pressing medical problems.
The Davenports last week became the first beneficiaries.
The shirts feature Cape San Blas or Mexico Beach and include a heart over the area as well the Serenity logo and a Superman symbol on the back of the shirt.
“They are really nice and cost just $20,” Williams said. “Lots of friends, family and many of my repeat guests have purchased them.”
All proceeds go to Williams’ mission of allowing one family each year to hit pause on life’s travails for a few days.
Further, Williams has already lined up homeowners and their homes for the next three years.
“I have kind of a boutique business with homes that are gulf-front,” Williams said. “They are really nice homes.
“It’s just really generous of the homeowners to support what I am doing and allow these families to use these homes that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
And a fledgling foundation, in turn, has been provided additional fuel, thanks in part to rotten weather.
In advance of last year’s Scallop Festival, Williams had lined up items she intended to raffle to raise funds for the foundation the Davenports established to fight the disease that ravages their children.
But with the cancellation of the Scallop Festival last October due to the impacts of a hurricane, Williams had those items, donated by local merchants, still in hand.
“It is really nice how local businesses have gotten involved,” Williams said.
Those items are now in the Davenports’ hands to raffle next month.
And last week, after their long delay, the Davenports arrived in town to enjoy the largesse of Williams’ efforts, a four-day stay at Aledia by the Sea with their children in tow.
“They were just so happy to be here,” Williams said. “The joy (on the children’s faces) it was overwhelming.
“It was so humbling to be a part of it.”
Both Davenport children have a life-threatening genetic disease called Schimke Immuno-Osseous Dysplasia, or SIOD.
A very rare form of dwarfism, the disease causes renal failure and a weakened immune system.
There have been only six confirmed cases in the United States, with less than 50 worldwide.
The Davenports are the first reported siblings that share the disease.
Even with a kidney transplant, life expectancy is only nine to 11 years.
Eventually, both children will receive healthy kidneys from their parents: Kruz, born in 2013, from Kyle and Paizlee, born in 2014, from Jessica.
The Davenports established the Kruz’n for a Kure Foundation.
The foundation has raised $700,000 in less than two years and is on track to hit $1 million this year.
The money goes toward research being done at Stanford University. Initially all important research data was being held in Canada, until the Davenports reached out and got the data moved to Stanford.
The foundation covers the cost of the research at a price of $30,000 a month.
“I have an empathy gene,” Williams said. “I feel I should be doing something greater.
“But meeting them, spending time with them, it makes it all so much more meaningful. They have had an extraordinary impact on my life.”