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Country Music, Twain Lighted Up Teen's Life

Sandra Mathers of The Sentinel Staff

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on December 7, 1999.

One of Shania Twain's biggest fans missed the pop-country music diva's weekend performance at the Orlando Arena.  Jason Curtis Massey of Oviedo, a quadriplegic, was battling pneumonia while his idol was performing here Friday. Jason died Sunday of complications from his illness. He was 17.

The Friday concert was Twain's only local appearance in recent years that Jason missed, said his mother, Ruby. The teenager had met Twain four times in the past seven years, first in Nashville, Tenn., in 1993 and later in Ocala and Orlando. "I never thought I'd see my son have a look of utter love for someone else," his mother said of her son's first visit with Twain. "He looked up at her, and there was a look of puppy love on his face."

Jason, who was born without a disability, began suffering from severe seizures at 5 months. His mother thinks it was a reaction to his second round of infant immunizations.  The boy was unable to walk, talk much or perform daily functions. He has required 24-hour nursing care for most of his life.  But, like his family, he loved country music and delighted in watching MTV. 

It was his first introduction to the Canadian performer who was named Country Music Entertainer of the Year this year. When the family visited a star gathering at Fan Fare in Nashville seven years  ago, Jason, then 10, became excited when he spotted Twain signing autographs. "She looked over at him and asked if he wanted her autograph," Ruth Massey said. "She left the line and came over to him."

The association blossomed. At a music festival in Ocala that year, Jason gave Twain a wood rose in a vase. She gave him an autographed T-shirt.  At Walt Disney World's 25th anniversary celebration, the boy attended her closed rehearsal and presented her with a teddy bear. At her arena show here last year, Jason gave her a dozen roses.

"It was a priceless experience for him," his mother said. "It made him feel special, and his time here was happier."

Jason is also survived by his father, Jimmy, and sister, Lorie, both of Oviedo.

Family Funeral Care in Oviedo is handling arrangements.

(Thanks Chris.)

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