Sometimes traveling off the beaten path pays off in ways you never could have imagined, like discovering a small Texas town that’s home to a big story. That’s what it’s like when you stumble upon Shenandoah, Texas — a quiet town just north of Houston that was home to a young boy whose story touched the world when he physically couldn’t.
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David Vetter was born in 1971 with severe combined immune deficiency and became known to the world as “The Boy in the Bubble.” His story not only had major significance to the medical field and influenced the film “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” featuring John Travolta, but America watched him grow up in his specially designed isolated bubbles until he died at age 12. Today, his hometown of Shenandoah has dedicated an exhibit to Vetter that includes some of his personal items and pays tribute to his impact on medicine.
The exhibit opened in 2016 in the Shenandoah Visitors Center at 19265 David Memorial Drive. It includes a 5-minute film about David’s life, detailing what life was like for David in the bubble and for his parents, David and Carol. David went into his sterile environment almost immediately after birth and it wasn’t until 1977 when NASA designed a special suit for David to wear and walk around outside of his bubble.
Photos and several personal items of David’s are on display as well, including toys, a T-shirt and his guitar. All of these personal items had to be thoroughly sanitized and decontaminated in order for them to be placed inside David’s bubble. Visitors also can see street signs named after David and his father, who later served as Shenandoah’s mayor from 1996 to 2005.
The exhibit is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. and admission is free. This unique attraction gives visitors a true account of the first SCID case and a look at how David’s case affected the medical field and future SCID cases. See more things to do in Shenandoah here.
The Boy in the Bubble Exhibit
Address: 19265 David Memorial Dr, Shenandoah, TX 77385
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.