TAMPA, Fla. -- A lesson in treating people the same even if they aren't just like you. That is a Tampa man's goal for participating in the Great American Teach in at Mitchell Elementary School. He is hoping to combat bullying and teach kids about his condition. You see, Drew Davis has been a patient all his life.
"I never looked at myself that way," Davis said of being "different." "I know that I had to have a lot of surgeries and stuff but I always felt like I was the same."
Forty-eight surgeries later and he is only 28 years old.
"I can remember going to the mall and trying to get in and get out, and escape the stares and the questions and stuff," said Sandra Davis, concerned about her son. "Drew was bound and determined that he was going to wave at every single person that he could Nothing really prepares you for that because I think the whole time that you are carrying a baby you have all these plans for this child and that was such a surprise."
Blame it on his vibrant, outgoing personality, Davis is thriving now. He sit behind the desk at Florida Craniofacial Institute helping some patients who are less accepting of their facial difference.
"I didn’t have a job available. But I was so impressed by his passion and he was talking to me about how he really wanted to do some community outreach and we decided there’s got to be a way that we can work this out," Dr. Pat Ricalde, the Director of the Florida Craniofacial Institute and on the board of directors for the non-profit organization Every Smile has a Story.
The organization helps educate people on facial differences but also provides therapies and financial support to families who are receiving medical care and are in need of medical supplies.
"We brought him in and embraced him and the way that he has changed the practice, the communication with patients, it’s just been phenomenal," Ricalde said.
"They’re having a hard time dealing with it and so my hope is to let them know they are not alone," Davis said. "They have somebody that has also gone through this."
A new movie called "Wonder" may help, too. It tells the story of a boy named Auggie Pullman with a facial difference as he enters school for the first time.
"If you could see through the facial difference and look into their heart, you'd see these families just want to be loved and excepted and treated like everyone else and they don’t want to be treated differently," said Dr. Ricalde.
"Just take the time to get to know them," said Sandra, who says living with a facial difference is a life-long journey. "They are exceptional people, they go through more stuff than you ever go through in a lifetime."
They also want to promote the slogan, choose kindness.
"Wonder" opens in theaters this Friday. Drew says he will be joining nearly one hundred other people to watching the movie together.