Donovan Bellamy’s life is anything but typical for a 9-year-old boy.
Once a week, the Youngstown 4th grader can be found at Akron Children’s Hospital’s Beeghly campus receiving an 8-hour-long infusion treatment for a rare genetic disorder.
This past Monday, however, Bellamy was treated to a special experience at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station as part of the hospital and air base’s Pilot for a Day program.
“He had an amazing day all around,” said Michelle Bellamy, Donovan’s mother. “You could see how happy he was from the look on his face.”
Pilot for a Day is a partnership between Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and the YARS Base Community Council. The program affords children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses a VIP day at the air base.
As part of his experience, Donovan was outfitted in a custom flight suit, served as a co-pilot in the cockpit of a C-130 airplane as it taxied down the runway, saw a Navy torpedo up close, and got a taste of life as an air base police officer.
“During his time with a security team, he was able to pull someone over who ran through a stop sign,” his mother said. “He even helped write a ticket. I can definitely see him becoming a police officer in the future if he is able to.”
She added that Donovan was super excited about the air base gear he was given.
“He still has everything on that they gave him,” she said, hours after the experience.
Donovan has Morquio syndrome, a condition that affects the development of bones because his body doesn’t produce a certain enzyme. Symptoms include short stature and skeletal issues. He was diagnosed in February 2016 and his treatment involves weekly, day-long visits to Akron Children’s Hematology/Oncology.
“He’s just 9 years old and what he goes through is pain we could not imagine,” his mother said. “We try to make the best of our situation. The whole crew today was so attentive and made him feel so important. Today was a special day for him, and that meant the world to me.”