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by Bob Garypie

Why Don't Lions Eat Clowns?


Story by Eleanor Jones
For child attendees of the Games, three "Kids Time" play opportunities have been arranged, in "The NFL Experience" here at Disney's WideWorld of Sports Complex.

Five-year-old Bobby Joyce loves to tell jokes.

Under a huge canopy, arcade games, a moon walk, a virtual batting cage, and a football punting cage offered lots for everyone to do. It was at the climbing mat area that I caught up with little Bobby Joyce, who came to these Games with his father, his two and a half year old brother Kyle, his mother Kelly, and his grandmother, Shirley Coy.

Bobby's dad, Bob Joyce, told me about how Bobby almost died.

When he was just four months old, Bobby suddenly got sick. His mom thought it was a reaction to the baby formula she had started giving him. His pediatrician thought it was pneumonia. But the chest x-ray showed an enlarged heart; a pediatric cardiologist found that a virus had attacked Bobby's heart.

Within 48 hours, he was very sick. Within 3 months he was critically ill, hospitalized, and put on the waiting list for a donor heart.

Bobby was so sick he went to the top of the waiting list, and waited only two weeks for a donor heart. On August 2, 1995, at the tender age of 7 months, Bobby underwent a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

The Joyces feared they might lose Bobby. And at the same time, "the parents of that two-year-old made a tough and courageous decision" to think of others, during their own time of crisis.

Bobby's dad said that all the Joyce family knows about the donor is that he or she was a two-year-old from Chicago. He is grateful that because of the transplant, they have the opportunity to be with Bobby every day.

Bobby's grandmother remembers when Bobby's family met a donor family at the 1998 Games. The family's son had been tragically killed at the age of two. His injuries had damaged his eyes so that they were no longer suitable for transplantation, but they donated all his organs. They said that the donation made them feel as though their grandson's life had not been wasted; as though perhaps this was what he was born to do: to save the lives of seven strangers. For every day of sadness they had, they knew that seven other families were able to celebrate life. For them, going to the Transplant Games and meeting kids like Bobby proved to them that donation was worth doing.

As young as he is, Bobby understands the importance of donation and is no stranger to publicity. He and his family have told their story to the press many times, all in the name of promoting organ and tissue donation. At the age of 3, Bobby was presented with an award from the local city council. Asked if he had anything to say, he proceeded to tell the following joke: Why don't lions eat clowns? ...because they taste funny!" The crowd was thrilled.

Back home, his pre-school teacher says that Bobby is great at reducing the fears of other kids. Whenever he hears that another child (or a relative of another child) has to go into the hospital, or that they are afraid of a medical procedure, he tells them not to be afraid. He explains, "The hospital makes you well, so don't be afraid to get shots or anything. They're there to help you!"

This youngster is not shy about talking with people. Here at the Games, he likes to approach the other athletes and ask them what kind of transplant they had, or where they got a particularly interesting pin. He loves to tell jokes, too:

"What do you get when you cross a Jeep and a car that's honking?"

"Jeep jeep!!" (sounding like a honking car horn)




This is Bobby's second Transplant Games. In 1998, he was just 3, but even then he was happy to talk with the other recipients and expecially to take part in the parade of athletes as it wound its way into the opening ceremonies.

This time, Bobby says he is enjoying the Games a lot, but he doesn't care much for the high temperatures. "It's hotter than summer!" He's running in the 50 yard dash, and plans to get a medal.


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