Clad in Duke blue, he stood smiling before a team of grizzled and experienced miners. He was the youngest person in the room – the smallest, too – but he beamed with enthusiasm. As the minutes passed, a pattern in his speech began to emerge.
“Thank you, sir.”
His confidence was worthy of admiration and his manners, impeccable. Still, it would take a bit more conversation to realize Davis Johnson’s truly remarkable nature.
“It was the best day of my life,” the 9-year-old said upon learning he had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “At first I was scared, but then I realized that I finally knew who I was. And who I am is a brave, strong little man.”
The condition, which requires Davis to monitor his diet, perform multiple blood checks and give himself four to six shots each day, is one that will affect him for life. That’s one reason why Dream On 3 (DO3), a nonprofit that works to bring to reality the sports dreams of chronically ill children, felt Davis should have an experience he’ll remember forever.
“Davis has natural leadership qualities,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, DO3’s executive director and wife of Brandon Lindsey, DO3 founder and sales manager in the Carolina South District. “This diagnosis turned his life and the lives of his family upside down for a little while, but he was a champion. … He had the right mindset and now helps other children understand a bit more about diabetes.”
On March 1, DO3 surprised Davis at his school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The group then took the boy, his parents, James and Nancy Johnson, and brother, Jim, 11, to Raleigh, where they visited Garner Quarry and later enjoyed VIP treatment while watching the Duke Blue Devils defeat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Davis, a diehard Duke fan, toured the stadium and locker room, met with Duke players and shook hands with famed Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Martin Marietta, a financial supporter of DO3, provided Davis and his family with a tour of Garner Quarry – where the brothers rode in a haul truck carrying 70 tons of rock – and lunch with the operation’s team.
North Carolina-East District Vice President-General Manager Buzz Crosby, Area Production Manager Tod Tucker and Garner Plant Manager Chubby Horton also were on hand to greet the family.
“It was a complete honor for us to be a part of Davis’ dream experience,” said Tucker, who worked closely with the nonprofit to coordinate the event. “We were pleased to help and glad that we work for a company that supports us in such efforts.”
Nancy Johnson, who worked with her husband and children to raise awareness and money for diabetes research, said she and her family were truly grateful for the experience provided by DO3, Martin Marietta and Duke University.
She hopes that Davis and Jim will look upon the day as a gift they can later repay by serving others.
“It’s never your plan to have one of your children get sick, but you just can’t control some things in life,” she said. “For us, our faith is important and I want both of my children to know that God is with them and in control and that they should give back because a lot has been given to them.”