‘The Destin hug’: Young boy with cancer receives warm welcome during vacation

Wendy Victora | NWF Daily News
Cameron Mullis, 12, spent Thursday evening at the Destin Harbor with his family and members of the Destin City Council. Mayor Mel Ponder, Mullis and his father are pictured praying.

A local doctor’s “condo call” Thursday helped a Kentucky family’s vacation end on a happy note.

Cameron Mullis, who is 12, was visiting the area with his mom, Susan, his dad, Scott, and his younger brother, Connor, thanks to a foundation that helps kids with cancer.

He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 2 and has undergone at least 10 treatments, according to his mom.

Visiting Destin was a dream of his, she said.

But three days into the visit, Cameron’s health deteriorated and he was in so much pain, his parents didn’t know what to do. They had actually considered the possibility of air lifting him back home, when a local doctor stepped in.

Dr. Richie Hughes, who had offered his services before the family arrived, made a “condo call” Thursday, according to Jan Hansen, who owns the condo where they stayed and helped coordinate the area’s outreach to the family.

Hughes contacted Cameron’s oncologist in Kentucky and arranged for his medication to be changed to get the boy some relief.

By 3 p.m. that day, his pain was under control and he was off in a limo to meet the mayor of Destin and get an up-close look at the weekly fireworks.

“The kids were pouring Mountain Dew into the champagne glasses in the limo,” Hansen said.

During their weeklong visit, the Mullis family went deep sea fishing, had the red carpet rolled out at local restaurants and even had some spending money – collected by the housekeeping department at the condo where they stayed.

They had beach portraits made Tuesday and photos of him meeting local celebrities Thursday.

Friday, he went to Uncle Buck’s for some bowling and played at the Track -- all courtesy of donations from area businesses and locals.

And Saturday, the last day of their visit, Hughes took the family out to Crab Island, where Cameron compared scars with some of Hughes’ buddies, who had war wounds of their own.

Late Saturday night, they headed home.

“It was like the Destin hug,” Hansen said. “They just had a fabulous time.

“The future doesn’t look bright, but he had such a wonderful time.”