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Caleb Wortham deals with illness by thanking Owen

MADISON – The first week of school, seven-year-old Caleb Wortham was dealing with a health crisis while most classmates were worried about scuffs on new Nikes.

At Madison Elementary School, Caleb Wortham, front left, congratulates his teacher Clarissa Owen, kneeling, for receiving WAY-FM's "Crystal Apple Teaching Award." Others attending the presentation were a Family Security Credit Union representative, from left, principal Dr. Tim Scott, assistant principal Britt Lovelace and WAY-FM representative. (PHOTO/REBECCA WORTHAM)
At Madison Elementary School, Caleb Wortham, front left, congratulates his teacher Clarissa Owen, kneeling, for receiving WAY-FM’s “Crystal Apple Teaching Award.” Others attending the presentation were a Family Security Credit Union representative, from left, principal Dr. Tim Scott, assistant principal Britt Lovelace and WAY-FM representative. (PHOTO/REBECCA WORTHAM)

Nurse Linda Haney at Madison Elementary School called William and Rebecca Wortham and said their son Caleb had a stomachache. The Worthams first dismissed it as start-of-school jitters, but Caleb soon was doubled over in pain.

“Almost immediately (in) the emergency room, spots started appearing on his legs, stomach and backside,” Rebecca said. The attending physician diagnosed HSP.

HSP or Henoch-Schonlein Purpura is a serious autoimmune disorder, and Caleb’s case is severe, due to length and severity of inflammation. He spent almost two months in Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham.

Due to joint pain, Caleb is now wheelchair-bound, and he has undergone chemotherapy. Without a local support network, the Worthams had to search for support groups and eventually found camaraderie with eight patients in Wales and England.

Caleb received a Make-a-Wish trip from Cole’s Foundation and Sailing Heals to New York City. Caleb’s wish was to visit Carnegie Hall. A musical family, William and Rebecca conduct Madison City Youth Orchestra; all five sons play violin, piano, flute and cello.

At Carnegie, Caleb “warmed up in the famous Maestro Suite. We were given treats by the chef,” Rebecca said. “I sat in the audience and cried as each son performed.”

Back in Madison, the Worthams nominated Caleb’s teacher, Clarissa Owen, for WAY-FM’s “Crystal Apple Teaching Award.” She won and WAY-FM employees visited Madison elementary to present the award on Oct. 29.

“Ms. Owen called every day in both hospitals, sent balloons and cards … and visited (our) house,” Rebecca said. “She showed a PowerPoint to the class about his disease.”

With his prognosis, Caleb will deal with HSP for life but symptoms soon will end. “He’ll go into remission and likely have up to four more flare-ups throughout his life,” Rebecca said.

Caleb’s brothers are Zachary, 19, Jacob, 18, Joshua, 9, and Benjamin, 5.

For information, visit Facebook/Praying for Caleb Wortham.

 

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