Softball tournament raises money for teen burn victim’s 66th surgery years after accident

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BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — A local teenager who was burned over much of his body when he was 7 needs another surgery, his 66th over the span of 12 years.

A group of friends and family members organized a softball tournament for Saturday to raise some of the $15,000 it’ll cost for the new type of collagen injection that will keep his skin supple as he grows.

“I’m having a problem with my muscles growing but my skin staying compact,” Camryn Higgins said. “So it’s harder to breathe, my heart doesn’t beat as well as most.”

When his dad switched insurance coverage a year ago, Higgins’ burn care became a pre-existing condition; while companies have to cover those under changes brought by the Affordable Care Act, they’re only required to pay for “essential health benefits.”

The new insurance company considers the surgery cosmetic, his parents said, so the claim was rejected.

That’s why Christi Nance, a family friend, stepped up to the plate to organize the tournament.

“Camryn’s a great kid, and he deserves it,” she said. “If it were [my child], I would hope that someone would do something like that for me as well.”

Nance’s daughter Alexa grew up with Higgins, but he only told her the story of his accident a few years ago.

A few years earlier, he was cleaning up after his 7th birthday party when he tripped while carrying a lighter to his father. An errant spark ignited fumes from a nearby gas can.

He spent days in the hospital on life support, and doctors told his parents he might not walk or see. Years of surgeries and procedures have given him a new appreciation for life and a vast support network.

KXAN first profiled Higgins in 2011. That’s the video he showed his friend.

“And I just cried,” Alexa Nance said. She considers Higgins more of a brother than a friend and wanted to play in the softball tournament to be there for him the way he’s always been there for her.

“I’ve played all throughout high school and every game he was there screaming loud,” she said.

Twelve teams have registered for the softball tournament so far. Teams can still sign up for an entry fee of $250, which will go to the surgery. Email Christi Nance, at christi_nance04@yahoo.com to sign up.

The group will also be selling food and drinks to raise money. The tournament starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Bastrop High School softball field on Buchanan Street between Hill and Pecan streets.

Higgins’ parents are still trying to work with the insurance company to get the surgery covered, but he’s had two others like it in recent months that they had to pay for out-of-pocket.

The teenager appreciates all the support, financial and otherwise. “It just means everybody has my back, and that just means a lot to me.”

To raise a kid like him, it takes a village — or, in this case, a team, swinging for the fences.

“It just made me a happy person,” Higgins said. “I know most people won’t understand that, but it really does. It changes you and it makes you a happier person. It makes you more grateful for everything.”

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