LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake City Boy With Cystic Fibrosis Finds Strength Through Murals Painted On Hospital Walls

Sep 24, 2019, 1:10 PM | Updated: 9:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Salt Lake City boy has to fight for every breath every day – literally.

However, there’s something special in his life that helps him find strength.

Elliot Hales would rather be somewhere other than the hospital. Life for the 11-year-old has been a series of inhalers, pills and treatments.

Hales has cystic fibrosis, a disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

Thick, sticky mucus clogs his lungs and causes infections and breathing problems.

Chad Davis painted murals at Primary Children’s Hospital. He never dreamed that they’d one day help one of his own.

Chad Davis painted murals at Primary Children’s Hospital. He never dreamed that they’d one day help one of his own.

“This vest actually goes in there and vibrates to move the mucus so it kind of gets un-sticky,” his mother, Alta Hales, said about one of the medical devices Elliot uses.

It means difficult hospital stays.

“Being hooked up to a tube for three hours straight,” Alta said.

Elliot can’t leave the hospital room when he wants to and has to spend most of the time inside while admitted.

“It is not what I signed up for,” Alta said. “Stay in the hospital for two weeks and have a PICC line into his heart pumping serious antibiotics in there. That’s so hard.”

A couple of things help though: dolphins and coral reefs.

“You know, having a little magic out there. The kids love looking at that,” Alta said. “Having those bright, cheery murals makes a big difference in a stark place.”

Research shows that art in hospital settings help reduce stress during long hospital stays, according to data from Primary Children’s Hospital.

There’s another reason Elliot loves the murals so much, though. The artist is his great uncle, Chad Davis.

“This is the strongest kid I’ve ever known,” Davis said. “He’s had a lot thrown at him and he just rises like the phoenix.”

Elliott Hales, age 11, of Salt Lake City, has cystic fibrosis. The murals his uncle painted inspire him to stay strong during long hospital stays.

Elliott Hales, age 11, of Salt Lake City, has cystic fibrosis. The murals his uncle painted inspire him to stay strong during long hospital stays.

Davis paints sets for plays and movies. He did them for the film “127 Hours” about a mountaineer who cuts off his arm while trapped in a Utah canyon, which earned four Academy Award nominations.

“But I have to say painting murals is probably my favorite,” he said.

He started painting hospitals on a whim that turned into a mission.

“I got into a state of giving my heart to them,” Davis said. “One doctor came up years ago and he said, ‘Thank you,” and I said, ‘For what?’ and he said, ‘You provide the best medicine.’ He’s a miracle, that kid.”

Alta said, “He can just see, Uncle Chad is right there, loving all the kids – and me.”

Davis never planned to be an artist.

“I was going to be a rock star back in the day,” he said.

Elliot said, “He’s the best uncle you could get.”

As it turns out, according to his nephew, Chad is a rock star.

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Salt Lake City Boy With Cystic Fibrosis Finds Strength Through Murals Painted On Hospital Walls