INLET BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Imagine waiting nine months to meet your sweet baby boy, all the while knowing he was going to be born with a life-threatening disorder.
That is a reality for one local family and now their community is coming together to help them any way they can.
"It's amazing," said family friend and event organizer, Amanda Hampel. "The outpouring of people saying they want to come help or they just want to donate whatever they can."
"The support from this community has been unbelievable," said another family friend and Shades Bar & Grill owner, Joe Freer.
Born on October 26th, Stone Maverick appeared to be a healthy baby boy, but what lies underneath is a life-threatening condition he will live with for the rest of his life.
"So Gary Coram and Jessica Shuflitowski, before they were to deliver their baby Stone Maverick, they found out he had Cystic Fibrosis," Hampel explained. "Leading up to his due date they determined she was having some complications and so she had to be hospitalized in Pensacola in order to make sure the baby was progressing like it should."
Suffering from this inherited disorder which damages the lungs and digestive system, little Stone Maverick was immediately rushed into his first procedure within minutes of coming into the world.
"He's already had two pretty serious surgeries to try to fix and repair the bowel blockage," Hampel said. "It was basically a worst case scenario situation."
Now only a few weeks old, many in the community are coming together to help support Stone and his family through this tough time.
"So Gary and Jessica have been friends of ours for a very long time," Hampel said. "This community, this 30A community, is a very tight, tight-knit community where everyone knows everybody. It's like Cheers here at Shades Bar & Grill, everyone knows your name."
"Jessica and Gary have been friends of mine for quite some time. Gary a lot longer. I've known Gary since he moved here from New Jersey," Freer expressed. "He's been a great friend. We've become best friends and to see somebody go through this stuff is very disheartening."
Coming to their favorite local spot for years, Gary and Jessica are viewed as much more than customers; they're family.
"We've been here in this location for 16 years and in the community for almost 30 and this 30A community, Walton County, even Bay County, they're amazing. They come together when somebody is in need and Gary is in need. Jessica is in need and little Stone, he's suffering but I think he's gonna pull through this," said Freer. "It's coming in here and seeing those special people you know and love and if something happens, good or bad, and in this case it's unfortunate, but we help however we can because it is a family."
"Everybody has a soft spot for a newborn baby and especially one that has gone through so many medical procedures so young in life," Hampel said. "But it's also when it's a local community member that we all know and love. It makes it an easy decision."
Shades Bar & Grill is be hosting a "Christmas for a Cause" event this Saturday, December 9th, starting at 7 p.m.
"It feels so good to help in any way we can. He's been a special friend. His mom and dad are special, they've become like family. I mean, we're all like family here and Gary is just another part of it and we're excited to help," Freer added.
For more event details, click the links attached to this article.