A young boy with terminal cancer is hoping for a special send-off — and race car drivers are stepping up to deliver.
Caleb Hammond was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 9, according to the Des Moines Register. Now 11, Hammond and his family recently decided to stop treatment at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, because it was no longer helping. He’s since returned home to Oskaloosa.
“There were some other options left, but they were going to make him sick and do harm to his body,” Chris Playle, Hammond’s uncle, told the Des Moines Register. “They decided to call it quits, and come home and be a kid and do the things he hasn’t been able to do the last year and a half.”
Hammond, who had a bone marrow transplant in January, has a lifelong love of racing: Starting when he was 2, he enjoyed visiting the Southern Iowa Speedway with Playle, the outlet reported. “He’s my racing buddy. It was kind of our deal,” Playle said. “I probably had just as much fun as he did.”
As Hammond nears the end of his life, he is hoping that his eventual casket will reflect his love of everything about the racetrack. “We’re trying to get a bunch of [stickers]. We’re trying to decorate his casket,” Playle said. “We’re just trying to do as much as we can with him while he’s here.”
The racing community has responded with gusto, according to the Des Moines Register. Earlier this week, NASCAR champ Austin Dillon tweeted, “Putting a package together now for you Caleb lots of stickers headed your way.”
Germain Racing shared a message to the brave boy as well, tweeting, “We are thinking about you, Caleb! There are lots of stickers and a signed hat from @tydillon headed your way!”
Go Fas Racing added, “We’ll be sending him a package with some stickers and a personalized hero card from @mattdracing!” And Fastenal Racing followed suit, as well.
On Saturday, Hammond was also surprised with the chance to get behind the wheel of a 46-7 hobby stock car in front of hundreds of supporters.
“Pretty awesome,” John Hammond, his father, told the Oskaloosa Herald. “A goal of his was to be able to drive a race car when he got older. It’s like a dream come true.”