Kansas teen Clay Beabout is not your typical 14 year old.
For one, he's a screenwriter and actor, with his first film set for a red-carpet premier next week.
Even more remarkable, he's already undergone 40 surgeries during his short life, including the installation of titanium ribs. Doctors anticipate he'll need at least 10 more.
Clay has Vater syndrome, an association of skeletal abnormalities ("Vater" is actually an acronym, standing for "Vertebrae, Anus, Trachea, Esophagus and Renal Dysfunction," often the areas of complication for sufferers). He was born with five missing ribs, two congenital curves and a collapsed spine. He lives in almost constant pain.
His greatest wish? To write and star in a movie.
"I want to express what I believe in," he told TakePart.
Three years ago, the Make a Film Foundation heard about the young boy's love of movies and his desire to tell his story. They decided to make those filmmaking dreams come true.
"He's got bigger plans in this world and he's got some more things to do, so I think he's going to be OK now," Amy Beabout, Clay's mom, told MSNBC.
"The single greatest thing they have done for Clay is letting him go from a world of 'you can't, you can't,' to a world of 'I don't have to listen to "I can't" anymore, look at all the things I can do.' "
"Deep Blue Breath" is Clay's first film, inspired by the obstacles and triumphs in his own life. The live-action film includes an animated sequence in which Clay conquers his disease.
"On the screen, Clay travels deep inside his body to fight a battle against animated characters that represent his disease. While a medical team struggles in surgery to save his life, an animated Clay fights his nemesis, the evil Lord Vater," TakePart reveals.
Sean Astin, Ernie Hudson, and Natasha Greson Wagner play opposite the young boy in the autobiographical film. Elijah Wood and the directing team of "Little Miss Sunshine" served as Clay's mentors on set.
"Deep Blue Breath" premiers in Wichita on August 18th. Proceeds will go to Make a Film Foundation and the Titanium Rib Foundation.
You can watch the trailer here.
(Photo: Trailer screengrab)