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Gators Have a Special Place in One Fan's Heart

10:55 AM, Jan 8, 2009   |    comments
Melissa Boyett at First Coast News
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HOLLYWOOD, FL -- Melissa Boyett, a 19-year-old from Jacksonville, has love for the Gators for a lot of reasons.

Melissa has cystic fibrosis. Her entire life has been spent in and out of the hospital. She's gone through two double-lung transplants.

"My life is a roller coaster," she said.

Right now, though, Melissa feels up.  She's in South Florida for the national championship game, to cheer on her beloved Gators. Her family has tickets to the game.

"They are definitely going to win!" Melissa said.

Melissa came to town a few days early to visit old friends. Her family used to live in Ft. Lauderdale. She's particularly close with the medical staff at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood.

"When I saw her come down here today, it made my day. Made my year! She used to light up the halls," said 'Lotsy Dotsy,' the hospital clown.

Right now, Melissa says her health is pretty stable. After two lung transplants, she says a third is likely not an option.  Melissa is looking into other available treatments instead.

Since her time in Ft. Lauderdale, she's not only been through a lot, but has accomplished a lot.

Melissa started college last fall. This semester, she's taking off to concentrate on getting her non-profit, Give 2nd Chances, off the ground.

The organization raises awareness for organ donation.

As for her trip to the big football game, Melissa couldn't be more excited. Her whole family supports the University of Florida, in part, because the doctors at the UF Medical Center performed her two transplant operations. She frequents Gainesville for treatment.

Now, she's looking forward to watching the Gators win.

"I'm definitely a huge fan, especially when you're indebted to them for life! They're going to win, no question about it," Melissa said.

First Coast News

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