On January 13, 2018, Adrienne and Brad Davis received a call informing them that their oldest son Curtis, 8, had been involved in a vehicle accident while travelling to Mississippi with his grandfather. Within 10 minutes of receiving the call, as the Davises rushed around their house to prepare to make their way to Mississippi to be with their son, they received another call that Curtis was being airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. A few hours later, while the couple sat in Baton Rouge traffic, they learned that their son was being rushed into emergency brain surgery.
“I was able to talk to the emergency room doctor and he explained that they were going to do an emergency craniotomy to relieve the swelling of his brain that he had from a head injury,” Brad explains. “He told me that he wished he had better news for me, and I asked, ‘is he going to make it?’ he just said ‘Sir, I’m not sure.’”
The Davises arrived at the hospital as Curtis was coming out of surgery. In instances of severe head trauma, a craniotomy gives the brain room to swell. With his injury, Curtis had already lost brain cells – the goal was that those brain cells didn’t harm active brain cells. The surgeon informed Adrienne and Brad that the surgery had been as successful as possible, but their son did have brain damage and his survival wasn’t guaranteed.
“We prayed,” Adrienne professes. “We put our faith in God. A few of my friends made a Facebook page for Curtis and through that prayers started coming in from all over the country. For four days it was a wait-and-see situation. On the fourth day, the doctor looked at us and said ‘your son is going to survive.’”
During his stay in the pediatric intensive care unit, Curtis’ brain never got above his baseline swelling, a miracle his parents contribute directly to prayer. They slowly began to wean Curtis off of his sedatives. His parents knew he would survive, but at that point, that’s all they knew. There was no guarantee what Curtis’ quality of life would be when he woke up. And at first it didn’t look promising. The couple started every morning to a barrage of nurses screaming their son’s name to no response. After 10 days in ICU, Curtis was moved into a regular room and day-by-day he became more alert.
“Three weeks after the accident and we still had not seen one hint of emotion or reaction from him,” Adrienne recalls. “We decided it was time for his brother (5 years old) and sister (6 years old) to come for a visit. They came in his room and Curtis heard their voices and he sat up. We sat his little brother on the bed with him and he hugged him so tight I didn’t think he was going to let him go and when he finally did he started crying. Curtis finally smiled and he never really stopped smiling after that.”
Curtis’ siblings didn’t see a sick child in a hospital bed…they saw their brother. After their visit, everything changed. Curtis began eating, responding and reacting. Within one week from their visit Curtis was transferred to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans to begin inpatient therapy on March 7. Meanwhile, at home in New Iberia, the community rallied together to support Curtis and the Davis family in ways that truly made miracles happen. When Jason Bayard saw the Pray for Curtis Facebook page, he didn’t know the Davis family, but he woke up the following morning and couldn’t stop thinking about their son.
“I woke up and I saw Curtis’ face in my head,” Bayard recalls. “I donated to the crowd funding site they had set up, and I immediately thought ‘I can do more. New Iberia can do more.’”
So Jason began contacting people who would ultimately make up a dream team of fundraisers. Everyone rose to the occasion in ways no one could have predicted. TEAM CURTIS at Quarter Tavern was held on February 24 and featured a guest bar tender competition, live and silent auction and $7 dinner plates. Friend of the family Sydney Jo Leblanc, who was among those involved in preparing for the event, saw first hand how her community reacted when called upon.
“Everyone wanted to help,” Leblanc remembers. “No one told us no. Even down to the last second before the event people were still donating auction items. That’s just what New Iberia does.”
Hundreds of people attended the Team Curtis benefit. They had to set up five tents outside of The Quarter Tavern to accommodate all of the attendees. There were close to 100 silent auction items and nearly 20 live auction items. And as for funds raised, they tripled their goal.
“We did not raise that money,” Bayard states emphatically. “Curtis raised that money. We just collected it.”
Leblanc agrees that the success of the benefit was a direct result of the way Curtis’ story has resonated with the community and the type of family the Davises are.
“The first thing Adrienne and Brad said after the accident was ‘please pray,’’ she reasons. “They turned to their faith. This was such a tragic accident, but so much good and love and support came out of it. I hope they realize how much they’ve impacted this community.”
And as for Curtis, he is back home with his family. He has completely regained his motor skills, but his speech and vision are still impaired. Curtis has a rigorous outpatient therapy schedule that his parents say he has never once complained about. Soon he will have a surgery to replace the part of his cranium that was removed and will be able to play without restriction like any other 8-year-old boy. Emotionally, Adrienne and Brad say the only change is that he is more affectionate, and they aren’t complaining one bit. The journey in front of Curtis will be hard, but the one behind him that he conquered was harder.
“Curtis’ recovery reinstills belief in people,” his father acknowledges. “Selfishly we were always praying that he would be a living miracle – that he would be someone people could say ‘I know that kid and he was healed.’ I think that happened. People look at Curtis and know that prayer healed him.”
“He’s alive because of prayer,” Adrienne says echoing her husband’s sentiment. “He’s a reminder of what can happen when we all unite and pray. So many people have walked with Brad and I on this journey and it’s made it so much easier. We don’t know where Curtis will end up, but we are at peace with the fact that we have our child back.”
The Davis family asks for continued prayers for Curtis and his grandfather who was also in the accident.