It started nearly 10 years ago when Caleb Thurman and his mom, Charice Fort, thought he had the stomach flu.
But Caleb only continued to feel worse. After being referred to Akron Children’s Hospital, several tests revealed that Caleb had Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. It’s an autoimmune condition with no known cure.
Unfortunately, one autoimmune disease often triggers another. They had no sooner accepted the first diagnosis before learning Caleb also had juvenile idiopathic arthritis. To stem the effects of both conditions, Caleb began undergoing IV infusion therapy.
Today, Caleb keeps a busy schedule despite juggling trips to the hospital every 6 weeks for infusion therapy and other treatments. His mom instilled in him the belief that a sickness shouldn’t be a crutch, so he keeps living the life he loves – playing sports, exceling at school and being a role model for other children going through difficult situations.
After attending Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio (a camp for kids with serious illnesses), Caleb hopes to train to be a camp ranger so he can serve as a counselor.
“He’s a wonderful person,” Charice said. “He’s a young man well beyond his years because of all the things he’s had to endure. He looks the picture of health, but many people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Caleb was recently named the newest drum major for the Firestone High School marching band. And, after playing baseball for 7 years in the West Akron Ball League, Caleb has started umpiring.
“I always let Caleb know daily how proud I am of him,” said Charice.
Through everything, Caleb and Charice remain strong, leaning on one another and trusting their team at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Be sure to tune in to 98.1 KDD Feb. 9-11 to hear more inspiring patient stories during the 2017 “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon broadcasting live from Akron Children’s. Click here to make a donation or text KDD to 41444 and donate right from your smartphone.