25 years of reporting in ENC: The impact of CMN on lives and a hospital

25 years of reporting in ENC: The impact of CMN on lives and a hospital
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:07 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -Working at WITN since 1997 hasn’t just been about delivering the news. This month I continue my look back at my 25 years here with another aspect of my job that has been and continues to be very rewarding and that is community involvement.

One of our biggest community efforts is Children’s Miracle Network.

In my years here, with your support, we have been able to raise $25 million for Maynard Children’s Hospital through CMN. And I have seen how those dollars have changed lives and a hospital.

I still remember the first time I met Davis Pugh of Greenville and his family back in 2004 to tell their story for the CMN Telethon that year.

Davis’ dad Frankie remembers too. He says, “18 years ago I remember sitting out here on the back porch being interviewed and it seems like it was yesterday.”

Davis’ mom Janna can still recall the details of what her son endured, just like she did back then. “I can very vividly remember everything.”

For Davis, his recollections are mostly from family and the news stories he’s watched. “I remember bits and pieces of it but it’s been a long time.”

A long time indeed. The story of his medical miracle began in 2002 when he was just 21 months old. His grandfather went to kiss him on his left cheek and felt a gumball-sized knot. That lump turned out to be a rare form of cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Janna and Frankie told me back in 2004 when I interviewed them that the diagnosis was a shock and left them in disbelief.

Talking with them again, Frankie said, “When you’re in your early 30′s and your life’s in cruise control and you just had your first child and 21 months old they’re diagnosed with cancer your life basically stops.”

The tumor stretched from behind Davis’ left eye to the base of his brain. He underwent 10 months of chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital in Greenville, and two months of highly advanced proton radiation therapy in Boston.

By 2003 Davis was in remission. In 2008 he was declared cancer free.

Janna says, “We’re very blessed with the care that Davis received. If it wasn’t for our start here we could have definitely had a different outcome.”

The outcome they got meant Davis could do all of the things they had hoped and dreamed and that he could just be a regular kid.

He was swinging a bat when we met and he never stopped. He played baseball all through school and at Pitt Community College.

Frankie says, “Now Davis is a grown adult, 21 years old, and coming up on his senior year at East Carolina University and I just couldn’t be any more proud of him than I am.”

And Children’s Hospital has grown right along with Davis. Maynard Children’s Hospital along Stantonsburg Road didn’t even exist back when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Davis says, “To see where it was when I was 21 months old to where it is now is just amazing.”

Davis and his family have helped along the way with that transformation by telling his story and giving back over the years with the telethon.

Janna says, “It was fun to be a part of and it was neat that Davis was able to be a part of the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting, ya know for that Children’s Hospital because it was not there when he had his treatment.”

Frankie told me, “And the importance of the Children’s Miracle Network and the money that they raise for the kids, and the rallying of the community now you look over there and see the hospital and how large it is and how much money they’ve raised and it’s all about the kids and that’s one of the reasons why Davis is here today.”

Davis says, “It’s great, it’s awesome. What they have going on over there is amazing.”

It’s part of what has allowed that little kid to grow into a great adult, like so many others across eastern Carolina. And I have been honored to be able to help share Davis’ story over the years, and for the support from people like you, that are all part of the journey for all of our CMN families.

Janna says what they and Davis went through certainly change your outlook on life. “Ya know you just don’t take anything for granted and every time I look at him I just realize what a miracle he is.”

Next month I’ll continue my look back at my 25 years of reporting at WITN by taking you to some of my favorite places in ENC.

To watch and read my May anniversary report on the biggest mystery I have covered you can click here.

To watch and read my April anniversary report on working through and covering a pandemic you can click here.

To watch and read my March anniversary report on familiar faces and changes through the years you can click here.

To watch and read my February report on my most impactful story you can click here.

To watch and read my January report on my first story I ever covered you can click here.

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