Christmas Delivery for Drake
By Scott Pearson
The Christmas season is all about wishes and surprises and Drake Barlow received both this year.
Drake is a Lewisburg five-year-old whose battle against congenital heart issues has been an inspiration to the city over several years.
He was born with an aorta, the main blood vessel exiting the heart, that was too small. He's undergone several surgeries but his condition means that he is not currently eligible for a transplant, according to his mother Jill Barlow.
"He's amazed all of the doctors," she said. "He's amazed us all."
Drake was profiled in the Tribune in early 2015 as his battle against heart issues and his friendship with local UPS driver Curtis Johnson captured the hearts of others, both locally and nationally.
Drake has built a close relationship with the package delivery company over the years, anticipating their visits to his home bringing medications for him.
Johnson would make a point to stop and visit with Drake every delivery, becoming one of Drake's favorite friends.
The February, 2015, story detailed their friendship, including the then three-year-olds choice to dress that year as a deliveryman himself, and the story's spread nationally as UPS shared it throughout their company.
On Friday, December 2, Drake went to the UPS hub in Columbia for a special delivery of his own.
According to his mother, Drake was a bit wary, afraid they might be going to another doctor visit, but the trip turned out much better.
UPS presented Drake with his very own delivery truck, a drivable UPS truck of his very own, fitted out complete with shelves in the back for deliveries.
On Saturday, December 10, Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee made another one of Drake's wishes come true.
The Lewisburg Recreation Center hosted almost 150 guests who shared in two of Drake's favorite things, tacos and country music.
Not surprisingly to anyone who knows him, Drake's included a big party. He wanted to share his wish with as many people as possible.
Among the holiday decorations and Santa hats, Drake's friends and family listened to country music while dining on one of his favorite foods.
Barlow said that ever since Drake was born Make-A-Wish had been recommended to them but the family wanted to wait until Drake was old enough to decide for himself what he wanted his wish to be.
A special treat was that the Spring Hill High School Marching Band Drumline attended as well. Drake likes drumlines and they gave him his own drum so that he could play along with them as well.
Drake loves people and has never met a stranger, his mother said.
In part, it's because of his condition.
Drake's immune system is weak, meaning that he can't always get out as much as he'd like.
His mother Jill said that the five-year-old started pre-school this year a few days a week and even though he loved it and learned a lot, he kept getting sick from being around so many other children and had to stop going.
Being forced to spend so much time at home has only made him happier to make friends.
Barlow said that anyone driving by the house, UPS or FedEx delivery trucks to the sanitation trucks every week knew to give Drake a honk of the horn as he was glad to see them all.
Now, when the weather warms up, Drake can get out in his driveway and drive his own delivery truck just like his friend Mr. Curtis does, and over the winter he can practice his drum like his new friends in the high school drumline.
His smile as he remembers both of his special days in December should provide enough light to make it through the dark winter days until spring, certainly.