Archive for Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tonganoxie teen-ager surprised as foundation grants his wish

November 10, 2004

Faculty and staff of Kansas University's theater and film department did plenty of acting last Friday afternoon.

They were pretending to give 17-year-old Tristan Bowersox a tour of Oldfather Studios so he could decide if he wanted to attend KU.

But the tour really was an elaborate plan to surprise Tracy Bowersox, Tristan's 13-year-old brother, who has cystic fibrosis and was tagging along. At the end of the tour, staff unveiled a new laptop computer and high-tech film editing software, a gift from the Children's Wish Foundation.

"I had no idea," Tracy said of the surprise. "They really didn't have to do this. It's cool they did."

Tracy, an eighth-grader at Tonganoxie Junior High School, has been interested in movies for the last year, since he bought a video camera. He has written, directed and acted in his own short movies, sometimes relying on family members for help.

One series is titled "Indiana Bum," a takeoff on the "Indiana Jones" series.

"I make little films," he said. "Sometimes they're pointless, but sometimes they're good. They're usually funny. I don't think I've ever made one that wasn't supposed to be funny."

But the computer editing equipment he has been using often makes his computer crash.

So when a worker at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., mentioned the Children's Wish Foundation, which is based in Atlanta, Tracy decided to ask for the filmmaking equipment.

"He's constantly frustrated with the editing software we have," said Tracy's mother, Jodi Bowersox. "I think it's really cool."

A small group of film staff, faculty and students gathered Friday afternoon at Oldfather Studios to watch the gift presentation. Some ate cookies, but Tracy's cystic fibrosis kept him from eating.

His body doesn't produce digestive enzymes, so he has to take six pills every time he wants to eat foods that include fat. He also has to do breathing exercises daily.

"His cystic fibrosis may be mild compared with other children, but with all he goes through with therapies and medicines, this will make a difference," Jodi Bowersox said. "Every day he'd rather be doing something other then his therapies."

Jodi Bowersox said the average life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis was 33 years.

"We're always real hopeful if they don't come up with a cure, they'll find a therapy or medicine that will help him live a longer life," she said.

Mike Boring, a KU administrative assistant who organized Friday's event, said everyone at Oldfather Studios did a good job of keeping a secret before the computer unveiling.

"It was great," he said. "I love this kind of thing."

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