a 17-year-old, life should be about making memories and looking forward to the
future. But for some, such as Denver Shuttlesworth, life is about staying
was diagnosed in 2014 with neuroblastoma,
a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous
system, according to the American Cancer Society.
But like every other
teenager, Denver still has dreams and wishes. Recently, one of those wishes
came true, when Denver was presented with a new Stinger 175 bass boat from the
Alabama chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"The moment was
surreal,” Denver said. "It was shocking
… and very heart touching to me.”
Member Sandy Hollinger, Denver’s mother, said before he was diagnosed, they
initially went to the ER for back pain Denver was experiencing.
"When they did a CT
scan, they saw a tumor resting on his spine,” Hollinger said. A week later, he
was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.
Hollinger said her
son spent a year and a half at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in
Tennessee but now is back home taking oral chemotherapy.
"He’s doing very
well and is responding to the treatments, but we have a very long way to go
still,” Hollinger said.
Thinking he was
going to Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve for a photo shoot with his
girlfriend, Denver was surprised with the gift of the boat and the big crowd
that showed up to watch him receive it.
Hollinger said they
picked Magnolia Branch as the venue for the surprise because of Denver’s avid
love for fishing. The lakes at Magnolia Branch have plenty of fish, stocked
with blue gills, catfish and shell cracker.
"Fishing, to me, is
so relaxing, and it takes me to a different place where I don’t think of
anything negative,” Denver said. "To be sitting in a boat, casting a line and
just enjoying nature is perfect. Being out here at Magnolia is peaceful. I’m
very honored and thankful to Make-A-Wish for giving me a boat of my own.”
Denver was the first recipient of Alabama’s Make-A-Wish in the area.
"We wanted to make this
wish experience he and his family would always remember,” Alabama Make-A-Wish
President and CEO Pam Jones said.