Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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March 5, 2014

NDES seeking help for student's surprise

GREENSBURG – North Decatur Elementary School (NDES) third grader Calvin Arnold will undergo his last chemotherapy treatment on March 10, a feat the school wants to celebrate with a surprise party on March 14 to honor Calvin’s strength.

Calvin was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and has had to overcome numerous challenges on the journey to his last treatment. In addition to the physical burden that comes with debilitating illness, Calvin missed a significant amount of school while he was in the hospital. Though he passed the state tests, those involved believed it was best for Calvin to repeat the third grade.

While few can truly understand Calvin’s struggle, there is no lack of support for him at NDES. He had many friends, in both third and fourth grades, all of whom are cheering Calvin on as he nears his last treatment.

Calvin’s teacher, Josh Benjamin, spoke with other staff members and they all decided to throw a surprise celebration to honor the immense strength and courage the young man has shown as he battled the cancer. Benjamin said they would like to make the party even bigger than expected.

Because Calvin is such a huge sports fan, whose favorite teams are the Pacers, Colts and Bengals, Benjamin’s wife contacted the studio manager for ESPN to see about having Calvin featured on a segment of “Outside the Lines.”

The studio manager suggested having members of the community share Calvin’s story on the “story ideas” section of the network’s website. According to the manager, ESPN employees check the website frequently in order to monitor which stories are garnering community interest and support. Benjamin said the studio manager told his wife that the more people who visit the site and suggest Calvin’s story, the more likely it is that ESPN will respond.

Benjamin stressed the necessity of keeping the plans a surprise from Calvin. He told the Daily News that the event will have much more of an impact if the third grader is surprised by it. He requested that anyone coming into contact with Calvin should please not mention ESPN or the surprise party.

Even if ESPN declines to feature Calvin on “Outside the Lines,” March 14 will still be a very special day for the young man. Students at the school are making gifts for Calvin to show how much they care for and support him. Some teachers have made things for Calvin as well, like a scrapbook binder chronicling some of Calvin’s high points through treatment and school. A North Decatur High School student also created a video about and for Calvin to show some of what he has gone through on his journey to health.

Benjamin has a relative using friendly connections to possibly secure some signed sports memorabilia for Calvin. According to Benjamin, celebration organizers are attempting to cover every possible avenue to make the event as special as possible for Calvin.

The March 14 celebration will take place from 2:15 to 3 p.m. in the NDES cafeteria and Benjamin said everyone is welcome to attend. Should anyone attending want to get Calvin a gift, Benjamin and Calvin’s mother, Erin Arnold, reported that the young man enjoys sports memorabilia from his favorite teams, anything related to the Minecraft video game, Legos, baseball hats and video games. Gifts are not required or expected, as the community support is what the event is all about.

Calvin is currently ill again and is staying at Riley Hospital for Children with his mother. She said his illness may prevent him from being at school for general attendance for a while, but he will be there on the 14th for sure, though he doesn’t know why.

“I think that he is amazing and he has helped every adult in his life through this, just by the way he has dealt with everything. If he wasn’t so strong, we would have all fallen apart,” said Arnold.

Arnold said she was very grateful for Benjamin and the care he has shown for her son. She told the Daily News that she didn’t think just any teacher would go to such an extent for a student. Arnold also extended her gratitude to the community for their support, which has been a comfort.

Story idea submissions can be made to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” at http://es.pn/1mb0AGn. A sample story entry has been provided, but anyone submitting Calvin’s story is free to use their own words as well. The important issue is catching ESPN’s attention in order to better celebrate Calvin’s incredible strength in the battle against cancer.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com

 

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