NEWPORT BEACH — Hearing the word "treatment" spurs a Pavlovian-like response in Beckett Williams that is as natural to him as sitting at the table for dinner or going to bed at night.
The blond-haired, pink-cheeked toddler, who is nearly 2, will attempt to hook up a machine that shakes him as he breathes in medicine in its efforts to break up the thick and sticky mucus in his lungs caused by cystic fibrosis.
"He doesn't know any different," said Amy Williams, his mother. "He knows that's part of the drill."
Less than two weeks after his birth in May 2009, Beckett was diagnosed with the inherited terminal genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems. Mucus clogs the lungs, leading to potentially deadly infections and impeding the pancreas from breaking down and properly absorbing nutrients.
"It was very difficult," Amy Williams said. "We were a little confused, scared. We knew it was bad, but we didn't know what it meant."
Since Beckett's diagnosis, his family and friends have been working to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to support research for better treatments — and a cure.
This group includes the Williams' neighbors — sisters Maddy and Kenzie Ludes, 18 and 15, respectively — who founded Beckett's Buddies last year at Newport Harbor High School, where they attend, to support the foundation.
Now all of Beckett's supporters are gearing up to walk on team Beckett's Buddies for the foundation's largest fundraiser of the year: Great Strides: Taking Steps to Cure Cystic Fibrosis. They are hoping to raise as much money as they can.
"Beckett looks so happy and healthy, but when you see his treatment, you see how serious it is," Maddy said.
Time for treatment
Amy Williams came home to their Newport Beach house Tuesday night with 3-year-old Brody, who undressed right outside the front door before hopping straight into the bath to get rid of any germs that might infect his baby brother's weakened immune system.
Beckett and his father, TJ, were playing until Beckett heard the word "treatment." It was his cue.
Beckett's small legs powered him quickly into the living room, where he pushed two chairs nearly twice his height into place in front of the TV.
He opened a cabinet, pulled out a toddler-sized black vest and tried to plug two black hoses into a sleek machine before climbing up onto one of the chairs.
With the vest on, the hoses in the right places and "Toy Story 2" playing, the breathing treatment started.
"He'll sit there the entire time and watch a movie," TJ Williams said.
Beckett held a breathing mask over his mouth and nose as he sat there shaking, his eyes glued to the TV.
The vest works to break up and loosen the mucus in his lungs while the breathing mask delivers four medicines into his lungs to open up his airways, thin the mucus and kill bacteria.
The little boy does this 30-minute routine twice daily on good days, Amy Williams said.
On a bad day, if he is sick, it could be up to six times. On days like that, Beckett understandably resists.