Cystic fibrosis causes persistent lung infections that inhibit lung function over time -- 14-year-old Michael Caruso Davis has recently been honored for his strides in battling the disease.

Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections that inhibit lung function over time, affects over 30,000 people nationwide.

Among them is 14-year-old Michael Caruso Davis of Townsend, but he has recently been honored for his strides in battling the disease.

Michael has been nominated for Boomer Esiason’s Team Boomer Athlete of the Year Award. Esiason, a former NFL quarterback, led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl, and has a son with cystic fibrosis. Esiason is now a football commentator on television and radio.

Diagnosis brings shock

Fourteen years ago, Michael’s mother, Jennifer Caruso, was given the news that her 3-week-old baby had been screened with cystic fibrosis, more commonly known as CF.

“I was shocked and scared, to be honest,” Caruso said, remembering when she first received the news that her baby boy had been diagnosed with CF. “Then, the doctors told us that they only expected him to live until he was 23. As a mother, I was worried about his quality of life. Would he be able to live a full live, have friends, play sports, and now he’s gone above and beyond what I could’ve hoped for.”

Caruso said that while Michael’s lung function is at roughly 80 percent, he still is very active, running in marathons, participating in triathlons, even playing lacrosse. She also said that since his original diagnosis, doctors now estimate that Michael will live to 46, doubling their expectations from 14 years ago.

Despite coming so far, Michael’s battle with CF continues, and at times, can prove to be a bear to deal with.

“It’s been very hard and an emotional living with it,” Michael said. “My daily routine consists of getting up every day at 4:30 a.m., doing hour breathing treatment which is wearing a vest that vibrates and doing various nebulizer, I do this anywhere from two to four times daily. I also swallow over 40 pills a day.”

Just last year, Michael spent a total of 12 weeks in the hospital, with his lung function dropping into the low 70s. Fortunately, Michael was able to leave the hospital in December. The time off, however, did little to discourage him as he set his sights on competing in the New York City Half Marathon.

“He decided that even with diminished lung capacity, that he was going to do it,” said Caruso. “He was like ‘I’m going to train, and I’m going to do this,’ and he ended up finishing it with a time of two hours and 18 minutes.”

The award nomination 

Michael was put into the running for Team Boomer’s Athlete of the Year when he was crowned Athlete of the Month in July 2016. Boomer Esiason offers the award through the Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis.

“To be in the running for Athlete of the Year, you must have been an Athlete of the Month, and that happens by somebody nominating you, then Boomer choosing you from that month’s nominees,” said Caruso. “For Athlete of the Year, the nominees are put on poll on social media where the public votes who will be the Athlete of the Year.”

Naturally, Michael was excited to learn of his title of July’s Athlete of the Month, subsequently leading to his nomination for Boomer’s Athlete of the Year.

“It was an incredible feeling of accomplishment and I am honored to be nominated with the other incredible athletes,” Michael said. “My mom has always been by my side and my number one fan. I also have a great support team with my grandparents and my entire family and friends. I so thankful for all of them and their support.”