Townsend teen Michael Davis was honored as the Team Boomer Co-Athlete of the Year in the first contest sponsored by former NFL star Boomer Esiason's foundation. Davis and fellow winner Avery Flatford of Tennessee brought national attention to the cystic fibrosis community during their nail biting race May 17 to June 6.

After three weeks of campaigning, 14-year-old Michael Davis of Townsend was crowned Team Boomer Co-Athlete of the Year by the Boomer Esiason Foundation which fights cystic fibrosis.

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.

Davis, who has suffered from cystic fibrosis his entire life, was chosen as Team Boomer’s Athlete of the Month back in July 2016, which put him in the running for 2017’s first ever Athlete of the Year award, along with 17 other athletes. One of the accomplishments he was recognized for was finishing the New York City Half Marathon.

Davis engaged fellow Athlete of the Year, Avery Flatford of Tennessee, in a tight race during voting on the internet May 17 to June 6. Davis took the edge over Flatford during the final week, staying as high as 3,000 votes ahead of Flatford, until the final day when Flatford surged to the front.

At the end of voting Flatford and Davis were separated only by about 1,000 votes, according to Michaela Seccareccia, President of Team Boomer.

“Michael and Avery were going back and forth almost from the very beginning,” Seccareccia said. “One would take the lead, only to have the other take it back in the next few days, and they were so far in front. It was really amazing.”

Due to the staggering amount of support show to each candidate and the insurmountable awareness each candidate brought to the cystic fibrosis community, Esiason decided to recognize both athletes with the award, Seccareccia said.

“We only made the decision to award Athlete of the Year to both of them that night,” she said. “At the end of it, everything was just so close, and they both brought so much attention to this, that we felt they both were equally deserving of the award.”

As a reward for their efforts and victory, both athletes will be flown to New York for Boomer’s Run to Breathe in 2018 which includes a meeting with Esiason after the race.

Davis still processing victory

When voting ended at midnight June 6, Davis and his mother thought they had fallen just short of Flatford, despite leading a massive social media campaign during the weeks leading up to the contest’s end.

“I had no idea I had won,” Davis said. “I was at school and I got a text from my mom telling me congratulations on winning. I had no idea that we were going to end up sharing the award, but it’s awesome.”

Davis said he was very honored to receive the award, and was glad that he was able to share the honor with Flatford.

“I was happy that we were both able to create so much awareness,” Davis said. “[The attention] was a bit overwhelming, with all the reporters and everything. I think there was one day we had three contact us in one day.”

Upcoming plans for Michael include a half-marathon run later this summer and a sprint/triathlon later in September.

Votes from coast to coast

Davis’ mom, Jen Caruso, could not have been happier to get the news that her son was honored as Co-Athlete of the Year, after leading a social media campaign that reached as far as California.

“It was really incredible the way the community rallied together,” Caruso said. “I had friends in California, Texas, and Miami just going crazy with it, sharing it.”

Davis said the morning of June 6, the day the contest was scheduled to conclude, she felt confident that her son would win, but that confidence diminished after a 2,000 vote lead quickly diminished. However, she suspected that Boomer and his team might decide to let her son and Flatford share the award.

“If you look at a lot of Boomer Esiason’s programs you’ll see that he normally has a male and a female recipient,” Caruso said. “Last week, even when we were 3,000 votes ahead, I reached out to them and asked if they had considered awarding the title to both athletes, because both been putting in a lot of effort into getting their towns involved, and getting people to talk about cystic fibrosis.”

Exceeding expectations

At the end of the day, while everyone was happy to win, they were equally as happy about the amount of attention the voting brought to cystic fibrosis.

Seccareccia noted that while Team Boomer was in the fifth year of featuring their Athletes of the Month, this was the first year they decided to honor the athletes by hosting a contest for Athlete of the Year.

“It exceeded all of our expectations,” Seccareccia said. “We didn’t think that so people would get involved, but they did and it was so great for the athletes and for raising CF awareness.

“Even Boomer was joking, telling us that while he was on the radio in the morning his phone would be going off with tweets and texts urging people to vote for their favorite athlete. The way people got involved, and got behind all the athletes, especially Avery and Michael, was really fun to watch.”

Seccareccia said after the successful results of this year’s Athlete of the Year contest, Team Boomer would continue the contest each year.

“Their lives are not easy,” Seccareccia said. “It’s amazing that they are able to do the things they do, which is why it is so important that we recognize them.”