WALLA WALLA -- Devin Bailey will be 10 on Sunday and he'd like nothing better than to attend his own birthday party in his own hometown.
The event will be a combination celebration and fundraiser at Mr. Ed's restaurant on Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. The joint will be jumping, said co-owner Dan Givens. In addition to hot dogs and root beer floats, there will be a clown, a dunk tank, balloons and race cars.
Devin, he said, is beside himself with excitement.
Mr. Ed's is special to Devin and his grandmother, Phyllis Bishop. The youngster is famous for his "high fives" to one and all upon arrival, Givens explained. The staff there has "sort of adopted" the duo, who come to the Isaacs Avenue eatery whenever Devin needs a treat.
Which is more often than for most little boys. Devin, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth, has a cheerful manner that belies his health situation. In September 2007 the youngster was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The cancer is fast-growing killer of white blood cells, which the body uses to fight infections.
He was in treatment for the disease until this past December, when doctors declared him to be free of cancer and removed the implanted medicine port from his chest.
"We felt really good," Bishop recalled.
A month later the youngster developed what looked to be a case of pink eye -- not especially alarming, since he is very social, she said. "Devin makes friends with everyone."
After a doctor agreed pink eye was the problem, Devin's family took typical treatment steps for the pesky problem that millions of people get every year.
"But the eye never healed," Bishop recalled.
Devin was sent to a specialist in Spokane who did a biopsy of the affected eye. The results stunned everyone, she said -- the cancer had returned and was growing again in the iris of the boy's right eye.
He is undergoing a series of 14 radiations treatments and a two-year course of intensive chemotherapy at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Bishop said. "It's been hard on all of us. We thought he was going to be cancer-free."
The stronger chemo makes her grandson sick and tired, and he receives painful shots in his leg muscle, but Devin always thinks about others, she said. "He tries not to cry. He wants you to be happy. He told me 'Nana, no cry. Be happy!'"
Devin has only been able to attend a few weeks of school this year. Bishop would like nothing better than to get her boy a laptop computer for his birthday, she said. Even though he can't read or spell, the youngster excels when using technology. "He's really good with his hands and I'm certain he could make that computer come alive."
His forte is a keen sense of direction and courage in trying everything. Bishop added. "He has a photographic memory ... there might be (software) out there."
If Devin's doctors feel it is safe, he'll get to come home to Walla Walla in time for his own party, said Lisa Donaldson, who is staying at the Ronald McDonald House near the Spokane hospital with her son.
Givens said his staff decided to put a fundraiser together when it became obvious Devin's family was struggling with travel expenses. The back-and-forth trips cost about $100 each time, sometimes doubled with a motel stay.
The event will last until the hot dogs run out and he's not going to set any sort of "suggested" donation price. "My philosophy is someone has a dollar, it can help. And maybe someone has 100 times that. Whatever we they can do. I want everyone in town to feel like they can participate."
Sheila Hagar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8322.
If you go
The fundraiser celebration for Devin Bailey is Sunday, beginning at 4 p.m., at Mr. Ed's restaurant, 2555 Isaacs Ave. For more information call 525-8440.