When Crystal Eide heard the words, “We believe your son has leukemia,” her life, and many others, were changed forever. Her son Caleb was just five-years-old on that dreadful day in February of 2014.
Caleb had been a happy, healthy, active little boy. Out of nowhere, things suddenly changed and Caleb’s energy faded. They went to the doctor several times and were told to “keep an eye on him and let us know if things don’t change.” Things didn’t change, and another doctor ordered a blood draw, thinking that would confirm a simple diagnosis of mono. That’s when they got the news about Caleb’s leukemia.
Caleb spent the next two-and-a-half years in and out of the hospital. He endured hundreds of bone marrow biopsies and spinal taps with anesthesia, blood and platelet transfusions, needle pokes and chemo treatments. This once healthy little boy received a lifetime maximum dose of total body radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
They flew across the country and tried seven different clinical trials — all because of his huge passion to live and his family’s faith that something may eventually work. Despite all this, the Eide family discovered that the only way Caleb would win this battle was to walk through the doors of heaven. Caleb gained his angel wings on July 29, 2016.
“Caleb is deeply missed more than words can describe,” Crystal said. “He was such a giving, loving little boy. I knew we were going to have to do something to keep that spirit alive and honor his life. That’s why we started the Caleb Eide Memorial Foundation.”
The Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to provide a legacy for Caleb’s love of life by offering assistance to families affected by medical hardship, college scholarships to graduating seniors, and community grants. The board of directors are: Crystal Eide, chair; Amy Lawstuen, vice-chair; Craig Fuchs, treasurer; Emily Sinn, secretary; and members Melissa Delaney, Matt Lawstuen, Chad Eide, Lindsay Eide and Chris Ostby.
“We started as an informal group just trying to raise funds for families going through a difficult time,” Crystal said. “During this past year, we transitioned into a nonprofit with a board of directors. Our upcoming golf tournament is our biggest fundraiser and we hope to surpass $10,000. We also accept donations throughout the year. I urge you to “like” our Caleb Eide Memorial Foundation Facebook page.”
Last year’s tournament raised money to help two little girls battling cancer: a local child, Meela Hoover, and Anya Martinez, a friend of Caleb’s from the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md. Both have the same type of leukemia as Caleb. The Foundation works directly with pediatric hospital social workers who provide anonymous profiles (with the families’ permission) of children with a life-threatening diagnosis. The board selects well-deserving families.
The recipients this year are 16-year-old Logan Pleschourt from Medford, Minn., who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October of 2017. The second is a local 6-year-old boy who is also battling childhood cancer and wishes to remain anonymous.
Last year, the Foundation gave two $500 scholarships to Chatfield graduates Austin Hines and Kennedy O’Connor. The board worked with guidance counselors to create an application for seniors to submit. The board reviewed the submissions and selected the two students. The scholarship awards will continue every year.
Despite everything Caleb was going through during his illness, his generous spirit shone through. He gave Christmas presents to children at the hospital to be sure everyone had a gift to open. The hospital had bingo and Caleb would bring back prizes for the children that were too sick to make it, even if it meant he didn’t get a prize for himself.
Crystal said, “My heart aches to hold him, to hear him laugh, to see him smile, and I still can’t comprehend how life continues to go on without him. Watching a child fight cancer changes your outlook on life forever, so please don’t sweat the small stuff. Always be kind to others because you never know what they may be going through. The Foundation has helped me with the grieving process. I feel fortunate to have so many family, friends, and others involved in carrying out our mission!”
“The tournament will go on rain or shine,” Crystal said. “Last year, we sent golfers out and had to bring them in three times because of the rain and lightning. We laughed that it was Caleb playing tricks on us. Being the usual prankster that he was, he wanted us to know that he was there too! After the rain delays, we ended up having a beautiful afternoon.”
Caleb Eide Memorial Foundation Golf Tournament Fundraiser
Chosen Valley Golf Club, 1801 Main St., Chatfield – Saturday, September 1, 2018
• The child/adult (9-hole, big-cup, alternate shot) tournament is 8 a.m. registration; 8:30 a.m. shot-gun start. $40/team; children must still be in high school or younger.
• The 4-person (18-hole, big-cup, best shot) tournament is 11:30 a.m. registration; noon shot-gun start. $160/team (includes dinner after).
• Register using the link on Facebook page or sign-up at the Chosen Valley Golf Club.
• Everyone is invited to bid on silent auction basket items and enjoy a freewill donation lunch from 11:30 a.m. until the food runs out.
• Raffle tickets ($20) grand prize — new golf cart with trailer, 2nd-10th are prizes totaling more than $4,000. Message Facebook page, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 251-8873.