By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff Writer
Seven-year-old Caleb Loper just finished a bout with brain cancer. As part of his reward for completing treatment, he received a helicopter ride from family friend Dan Lindsey on Saturday.
“It was cool,” Caleb said with a grin from ear to ear. “I got to fly all around.”
Landing at Caleb’s grandmother’s house, he was greeted by more than 50 family, friends and nursing staff from the Lubbock hospital where he received treatment for his cancer.
Grandmother Tami Loper lives on 21st Street in Clovis.
“(Dan) came out and measured and made sure the helicopter would be able to land there,” Tami said. “It was a neat experience for (Caleb) to be greeted by all these people who love and support him.”
Caleb covered his face in embarrassment as his mother Jan Loper imitated her son getting out of the aircraft.
“He looked like a rockstar,” she said. “He threw his hands up like this, you know, like rockstars do when they get out of a limo or something, and he just had the biggest grin on his face.”
Lindsey, who has known Caleb and his family for about five years and had flown them to treatments in Lubbock in his passenger plane on a couple of occasions, said the chopper ride lasted about 30 minutes.
“Caleb’s always had this thing about airplanes and helicopters,” Lindsey said. “The weather was just perfect for flying him around Clovis. He was just ecstatic.”
Diagnosed in 2003 with medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer in children, Caleb has been nothing but brave according to his family.
“His name comes from the Bible,” his mother said. “I’ve always pictured ‘Caleb’ to be this big strong warrior. And that’s exactly what he has been through all of this.”
His support system stretches from as near as his home and from as far away as Lubbock. Caleb has been on several prayer lists, and Texico schools held a talent show where all proceeds were donated to Caleb’s cause.
Also, nurses at the Lubbock hospital where he received treatment would stuff dollars in his pockets for him to find after surgery in recovery.
At his home, father Jon and older brother Chandler shaved their heads to match Calebs’ — doctors had shaven parts of his scalp to perform surgery.
Still, the biggest treat for Caleb was getting to ride in his buddy’s helicopter — a deal made between the young boy and his buddy (Lindsey) that if Caleb completed all his treatments, his reward would be to ride in the helicopter.
Lindsey said he and Caleb look forward to flying together again soon.