Session got off to an emotional start Tuesday morning as a local representative received a standing ovation during the governor's State of the State Address. Colleagues stood to salute Rep. David Coley, who on his first day of his first session is battling cancer.
Elected to the Florida House in November, 43-year-old David Coley doesn't speak much about his battle with liver cancer, but more about how he plans to serve the public.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush saluted north Florida Rep. David Coley in his opening address encouraging him to "fight on" despite his battle with liver cancer, and Coley was soon swamped by media interviews and hugs from those who know his story and stand by him.
Rep. David Coley (R) Florida, District 7, says, "You're seeing the people who've sent all of the cards, letters, cookies, flowers and everything else. You're seeing all of the colleagues and family members. It's almost like a big family reunion."
Coley was just elected in November, his lifelong dream to serve Leon, Gadsden and other north Florida counties. His colleagues know that balancing his fight against cancer and public policy demands won't be easy.
Sen. Al Lawson (D) Florida, District 6, says, "He is really a fighter and all of us know that he has a tremendous struggle and a long ways to go."
Rep. Curtis Richardson (D) Florida, District 8, added, "During his period of recovery we look forward to working with him and especially him being a part of our local delegation to make good things happen, to pass good policy."
Marti Coley, Rep. Coley’s wife, says while some have seen her husband and saw the glass half empty, she says his chances are great.
Marti says, "Unlike what we were first told, there is a treatment for this and we're receiving it now and he's doing well. We plan for him to be here next year and the year after that."
Rep. Coley says he's received a lot of support from his three children and from his nine brothers and sisters, and it was really amazing to see the reaction when he entered the House chambers on Tuesday.