Ever since I did a story on Riley Davis’ bone marrow transplant in September 2009, I looked forward to finally meeting him in person. I wanted to be there when he went back to Jacksonville Elementary School. He was in the middle of fourth grade when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008.
But his health didn’t allow him to go back. So then I waited to see when he would start Hereford Middle School. I already envisioned our photographer getting a photo of Riley, known as “Sunny D,” sitting in the cafeteria and surrounded by his friends.
I’ll never get a chance to do that story. Riley Davis died on Dec. 28. He was 13 and would have been in eighth grade.
I had been following his medical journey’s ups and downs for several years on a website, www.carepages.com. His mother, Mary, was good about posting the many, many complications that Riley battled over the years.
She, her husband, John, and their son Cole were mainstays at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which became Riley’s second home. Mary’s postings were so positive and she always, always thanked the Jacksonville community that supported her family.
In fact, parents and faculty from Jacksonville Elementary School held a bone marrow drive right after his transplant. Knowing Riley was given a second chance at life because of a stranger, they wanted to get people to agree to be on the national bone marrow donation registry.
We’ll never know how many people who signed up that day have been or will ever be called on to donate marrow to a leukemia patient. But isn’t it nice to think there is a child who will live a long life because of their efforts on behalf of a smiling youngster named Riley? What a wonderful tribute to a boy described by his mother in her final posting as “the bravest fighter we have ever known.”
The funeral arrangements have now been made. The Davis family will receive friends at the Lemmon Funeral Home of Dulaney Valley, 10 West Padonia Road, (at York Road), Timonium, on Mon., Jan. 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.. A service to celebrate Riley's life will be held on Tues., Jan. 3 at 1 p.m. at the Grand Lodge, 302 International Circle, Cockeysville. Private burial service. Guest registry available at www.lemmonfuneralhome.com. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Riley Davis Benefit Fund, P.O. Box 424, Hunt Valley, MD, 21030.