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Don’t be surprised to see many people wearing bright blue t-shirts Friday in support of a Cairo High School student who is undergoing open heart surgery that morning in Atlanta.
By all accounts, JaVondis Rollins, 20, is a beloved member of the Cairo community, known for his smile and sweet disposition.
“JaVondis is always happy and very lovable. He is a one of a kind fellow. He’s never met a stranger,” says Angelita Perry, career counselor at Washington Middle School who has helped organize Friday’s t-shirt event.
Born with a heart condition and down syndrome, Rollins underwent his first open heart surgery at the age of 5 months, according to his mother, Dethra Stephens.
“The doctors told us then that as he grew older he would have to have it again,” says Stephens. JaVondis is also the son of Landis Rollins of Leesburg, Ga.
Stephens, who says she has worked as a registration officer at Grady General Hospital for 20 years, is thankful for the support of her family and community.
“I’m a wreck, there’s no other way to put it. I’m just keeping going, trying to be strong for him,” she says.
Although she will have her four sisters with her during the surgery at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Stephens says it is helpful to know people back home are lifting her up in thoughts and prayers.
“I love it. I love the support. . .that they’re thinking of me, as well, that I’m not in it by myself,” Stephens says of the Team JaVondis t-shirt day.
She says she’s also ready for her son to regain his stamina. “He’s short of breath, no energy, he’s just worn out. The cardiologist said this will give him a better quality of life, and that’s what I’m looking forward to, because he loves bowling with the Special Olympics,” says Ms. Stephens. “He just loves bowling.”
During Friday’s surgery, which doctors have told Ms. Stephens will last about four hours, doctors will give JaVondis’ heart a mechanical valve to improve its functioning.
“We are asking the community to keep this guy and his family in your prayers for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery,” says Mrs. Perry who says she is expecting to see t-shirts on many Grady County school campuses Friday in support of the young man with the contagious smile.
“JaVondis is a very loving and caring young man. He loves to sing and dance. He also loves going to church. JaVondis also loves to eat, especially fried chicken and chicken nuggets,” Perry says.
His mother says he is easy to love and well known in Cairo. “People know him that I don’t even know. I guess from school. He’s so lovable, you can’t help but to love him,” she says.