Family and friends crowded into Sonic’s parking lot in Newport last Friday to watch the wish of a local teenager be granted. Tuckerman High School student Destyn Drake thought he was going to Sonic to order dinner when he was greeted by Sonic employees carrying balloons and a banner that said, “Your Wish Has Been Granted.” Drake, 13, was then surrounded by family and friends when two representatives from the Make-A-Wish Foundation announced that he was being granted his wish for a camper trailer.
“I like the camper a lot and was surprised,” Destyn said Saturday. “Make-A-Wish is awesome and the people are very nice. I’m glad that a lot of people showed up. It made me feel thankful.”
Destyn lives in Tuckerman with his mom, Felicia Drake, and nephew Chaylun Dennis. The family met their first tragedy when Chaylun’s mom, Stephanie, was killed in a car wreck when he was four, so he has lived with the family since December 26, 2003. Destyn was born March 7, 2004. “Destyn never got to see his sister,” mom explains, “but he has seen many pictures and we have shared many memories.” He also has an older brother, Jordan Baughn, who lives in Tuckerman with his wife, Rhianna, and their three children, Emeri, Easton and Everleigh. His dad, Todd Drake, lives in Newark.
Drake’s medical issues began in January of 2016 when he began suffering from headaches with no previous physical issues.”Destyn was a beautiful healthy eight pound baby,” his mom said. Destyn was taken to the doctor a couple of times and a virus or sinus infection would seem to be the cause. Then the young teen was sick with a headache and throwing up on May 8, 2016, his mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day. “I took him to one of the walk-in clinics in Jonesboro where he tested positive for the flu. I brought him home with Tamiflu and he wasn’t much better by Wednesday so I took him to the Children’s Clinic and told them that he tested positive for the flu. Taking this information they came to the conclusion he might be dehydrated.” The next day she took him back to the children’s clinic and saw a different doctor, “who was God-sent I’m sure!”
Dr. Kevin Rouse examined Destyn and wanted to send him over for a CT scan. The scan was done quickly and showed a tumor and fluid on his brain. “God sent another special person that we knew, Callie Wagner (of Tuckerman), to be his nurse that night. She was so loving and caring.” Dr. Rouse had a helicopter fly Destyn to LeBonheur and mom’s friend, April Johnson, drove her there, followed by Jordan, Rhianna and their children. Destyn’s dad and grandfather met them there. “When I was told I had a tumor I was confused, but Dr. Rouse made me feel better about it,” Destyn said. “It made it easier seeing Callie Wagner in the hospital before flying out to Memphis. The best part of the whole thing was the helicopter ride. It was actually fun.”
Within 24 hours Destyn had the golf ball sized tumor removed and the fluid drained off on Friday, May 13th. “Dr. Kilmo and his team did the surgery and was also God sent,” she said, adding that the hospital cafeteria and waiting room were packed with people there to support the family and stay with them throughout the surgery. “He amazingly came through and recovered with no motor issues or anything except a slight vision issue that he doesn’t even notice.” Destyn came home within a week and was ready to get crawfish at Hometown Days the next night. “Friday the 13th are not always bad luck,” mom said, “the one was when his life was saved.” “Dr. Kilmo took really good care of me and the nurses were pretty cool,” Destyn added.
At his three month checkup at St. Jude in August, another quarter size tumor showed up and was removed in September. Before his second surgery, April Johnson put together a surprise get together for family and friends at the gym in Swifton where they had food, played ball and sent up prayer balloons. His second surgery went as good as the first one. No issues again. He was back home within a week and the following night he wanted to go to the rodeo at Swifton where they recognized him for being through so much and overcoming. He was back at school within two weeks and released to play ball by the end of October.
Drake’s condition is still being monitored by doctors for any changes. He has a checkup every three months at St. Jude. “There’s a nurse that I see at my checkups at St. Jude that is really funny,” he said.
Last Spring Dr. Rouse nominated Destyn for Make-A-Wish and the family was notified that he was approved shortly after. The teen decided he wanted something he could keep even though he did mention wanting to meet the Duck Dynasty people one time. “He wanted a boat,” Felicia said, “but requirements were he had to be 16 so then he came up with the camper idea in August, which they said they could probably do. Make-A-Wish wanted him to be surprised and he sure was. He knew he could probably get the camper, but didn’t know when or what it looked like. He loved it!”
Along with the camper, the volunteers from Make-A-Wish supplied the teen with pillows, sheets, blankets, a fold-up camping chair, bathroom décor and towels, and a set of duck decoys for hunting. The company that supplied the trailer also presented a camping chair and gave him $100 to purchase a t.v. for the unit as well as all of the setup supplies needed.