NAMES IN THE NEWS : Good Wishes for Burned Boy

From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

Former President Reagan sent his regards today to a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who was set on fire by a bully earlier this year.

"Please know that you're still in our thoughts and prayers," Reagan said in a taped message to David Opont that was broadcast on "CBS This Morning."

"Thank you -- a lot," Opont replied emphatically.

The appearance marked Opont's first interview since he was released June 8 from Jamaica Hospital in Queens.

He was given a 50-50 chance of survival after he was attacked on his way to school March 7. During his hospitalization, which included six skin grafts and intensive physical therapy, he received cards, letters, gifts and good wishes from around the nation.

Reagan was among his hospital room visitors. Opont was asked what Reagan's visit had meant to him. "Everything," he replied.

Although Opont still undergoes therapy, "He's coming along quite nicely," said Dr. Craig Rosenberg, director of rehabilitation medicine at Jamaica. "He's an extremely courageous person."

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