An 11-year-old Iowa boy dying from leukemia has one wish: send him stickers for his casket.
Caleb Hammond is an avid racing fan, and has been since he was 2 years old, the Des Moines Register reports. He would often visit his uncle, who lived across from the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, and he and his dad, Chris Playle, would watch the cars zooming onto the speedway before the pits opened.
“He’s my racing buddy. It was kind of our deal,” Playle said. “I probably had just as much fun as he did.”
Caleb was diagnosed with leukemia at age 9. His family initially thought he was suffering from growing pains, and a doctor said his symptoms were caused by a virus working its way out of his system.
When the pain began to spread. Doctors initially thought it was due to mononucleosis or walking pneumonia, according to the family’s GoFundMe page.
A month later, doctors told the family that he had an acute form of leukemia and began chemotherapy treatment.
In January, Caleb received a bone marrow treatment, but the leukemia came back aggressively. Treatments have not been helping, so Caleb returned home from the hospital three weeks ago.
He turned 11 on August 14th.
“Medically, he’s still pretty strong,” Playle said. “I know later on in the evenings he’s tired, he’s ready to settle down… He gets worn-out kind of easy. But otherwise, he’s still pretty strong and spirits still pretty high.”
Playle said that once the racing community heard about his nephew’s wish for stickers, the word quickly spread on social media. Strangers showed up with a monster truck to help celebrate his birthday, and on Saturday, he got to race around Southern Iowa Speedway in a special surprise. A car show benefit is also planned for this upcoming weekend.
“We’re just trying to get some racing in and trying to do everything we can to keep the spirit up,” Playle told the Register. “The support and everything, all the cards he’s receiving in the mail, it’s been overwhelming.”
Stickers can be sent to Hammond at 314 North J Street, Oskaloosa, IA 52577. A GoFundMe page has helped the family cover expenses.