Rather than receive gifts for her birthday this year, Emily Davis, the 2016 Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults Poster Child, is asking that donations be made to the society or Highland County Humane Society.
Davis, a third-grader at Peebles Elementary who lives with her grandfather, Doug Chaney, near Sinking Spring, will turn 10 years old on March 25, five days before the 44th annual radio-telethon.
“Because I want to be kind,” Davis said Monday about why she wants donations to the two organizations rather than birthday presents.
Davis was born with Riley-Day syndrome. According to her aunt, Pam Chaney, Davis can’t take any food or drink orally, can’t feel pain or temperature change, has dry eyes she and has to put drops in every two hours when she’s awake, and has repeated occurrences of pneumonia. In fact, Chaney said, this was the first winter Davis has not had pneumonia.
“She remarkable,” Davis said of her niece. “Her biggest issue the last few months has been her eyes. They’re so dry that if she rubs them she can get abrasions.”
So, every six weeks Davis goes to Bethesda North Hospital where blood is drawn and “spun,” Chaney said, to help make her eye drops.
Chaney is a Highland County Society for Children and Adults board member and Davis’ grandmother’s husband, Herb Day, is an emcee for the March 30 radio-telethon.
Chaney said Davis will never outgrow all her health issues.
“Something will always be there,” she said. “But they are hoping that eventually she might be able to eat. The other issues she’ll just have to deal with, but that’s alright.”
Over the years, Chaney said, the society has helped Davis and her family with gas vouchers for hospital trips, glasses, and special medical equipment not covered by insurance.
“As a board member and an aunt, the society is there to help anybody who needs help in Highland County and is a great resource for special needs or times when money is short and a family might need help with medicine, equipment, ramps, lift chairs, and all kinds of things,” Chaney said.
Davis said she likes to play with her two cats and two dogs in her spare time; collects geodes; likes to cook even though she can’t eat, especially pancakes, waffles, desserts and anything with blueberries; and likes books and Infinity video games. She also sings at church and plans soon to start taking swimming lessons at the Highland County YMCA.
She has been a poster child for the society in the past and said she is looking forward to being part of the radio-telethon again.
In Hillsboro, the radio-telethon is being hosted by Merchants National Bank this year.
“We’re hoping we can this thing turned around and get it back up there,” Merchants Bank’s Bonnie Barton said about the event that raised $104,000 a year ago. From 2006 to 2008, the radio-telethon raised at least $200,000 each year with a record $219,623 in 2007.
The event is hosted by the Rotary Clubs in Hillsboro and Greenfield.