Avery Flatford is no stranger to competition.
The 13-year-old Farragut Middle School student is a pitcher for the FMS softball team and is a competitor on and off the field. On the field competition pales in comparison to her battles off the field.
Avery was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease that causes a build-up of mucus in the lungs, when she was 18 months old. “I’ve never let CF stop me from being the best that I can be, said Avery. Acknowledging her positive attitude, her father, Chuck Avery, says his daughter works hard to be able to live her dream of playing softball. Medication, breathing treatments and hospital stays are all part of her life routine.
The young athlete is a finalist – the only one from Tennessee – for the Boomer Esiason Athlete of the Year. Online voting will determine the winner, with voting open through June 6. Avery is making a good showing – in the top two at press time – but needs help from the community to stay on top. There is no registration necessary to vote and each person can vote once a day.
Esiason’s foundation is a major supporter of CF. His son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with the disease when he was 2 years old. Now a 26-year-old and a graduate of Boston College, Gunnar Esiason played football and ice hockey in high school and travels the world to speak and support CF research.
Avery was the organization’s January Athlete of the Month. Her goal is to become the first college pitcher with the disease. “Having CF has taught me to be mentally tough as well as a leader when battling adversity,” she wrote on her Team Boomer platform statement.
Avery is the daughter of Chuck Flatford and Lynsey Barnhill-Flatford.