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Concert aids two boys battling leukemia

Staff Report • May 16, 2013 at 2:54 PM

A community End of School Bash benefit concert Friday, May 17, will benefit Caleb Elliott and Hunter Housewright, both students at Sullivan Gardens K-8 School.

Caleb, a fifth-grader, and Hunter, an eighth-grader, were diagnosed with leukemia within days of each other in December 2012.

The concert, which begins at 6 p.m., at Sullivan Gardens K-8 School, will feature Thomas Taylor and the High Rize Band, the Benny Wilson Band and Marcus Boyd. Admission is a $5 donation per person at the door. Pizza, hot dogs and drinks will be sold, as will $1 raffle tickets for a chance to win a guitar. Major credit cards will be accepted.

All proceeds will go to Caleb’s and Hunter’s families. Doors open at 5 p.m.

After a normal day at school on Dec. 4. Caleb noticed a lump had popped up on his leg that evening. When he showed his mother, Dawn, she asked Caleb if he had done anything that would have caused it. All he could remember was he had been hit with a tennis ball in gym class earlier that day.

Caleb's parents, Travis and Dawn, decided the lump didn’t look like a normal injury, and decided to make an appointment with Caleb’s pediatrician.

On Dec. 5, Caleb's pediatrician informed the family that Caleb could have cancer. On Dec. 6, Caleb was sent to St. Jude Tri-Cities Affiliate Clinic at Niswonger Children's Hospital in Johnson City. They returned on Dec. 7 for a biopsy and a bone marrow test that confirmed that Caleb had acute lymphoblastic leukemia B-cell.

On Dec. 11, the Elliott family drove to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, where they would spend two days shy of eight weeks.

On Dec. 16, Hunter attended his eighth-grade football banquet. After arriving home, Hunter’s father, Dennis, noticed a strange rash on Hunter’s feet and asked him about it. Hunter told him that it had been there for a few days.Dennis told Hunter that he needed a flu shot anyway and made an appointment with Hunter’s doctor that next morning. Hunter was seen by Dr. Heise on Dec. 17. That evening Dennis received a phone call telling him to take Hunter immediately to St. Jude Tri-Cities Affiliate Clinic at Niswonger Children's Hospital.

On Dec. 18, Hunter and his father Dennis were flown to Knoxville then to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Hunter had a spinal tap, bone marrow, which confirmed that he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia T-cell. He immediately began chemotherapy.

Though neither the Elliott nor Housewright families had ever met, God had a bigger plan for these two boys. Upon arriving at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, Caleb and Hunter found out that they were from the same school in Kingsport, and that their rooms had been assigned right next to each other.

Dennis, a single parent who was in Memphis without a car, learned to lean on Travis and Dawn. With the common school background, the families bonded instantly.

Dennis and Travis were able to share their love of hunting, and their concern about their sons. As the weeks continued, Dawn and her mother, Betty, took Dennis and Hunter under their wings. As the boys continued treatment, their bond grew.

Both boys continue to undergo chemotherapy in their fight against leukemia.

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