“We Know She’ll Get Sick Again and be Back in the Hospital at Some Point. But for Now, When You Look at Her, You Don’t See a Sick Child. You See a Sassy Little Girl”

In August 2012, Wyatt Erber, age eight, won first place and $1,000 in a summer scavenger hunt sponsored by First Clover Leaf Bank in his hometown of Edwardsville, Illinois. He knew immediately what he wanted to do with it: give it to the Kielty family, whose daughter, two-year-old Cara, is battling leukemia. Wyatt said, “I didn’t know what I would do with $1,000. But I knew what [the Kieltys] could do with it. I knew they weren’t getting a lot of work done, because they were taking care of Cara all the time.” When his mother, Noelle, asked Wyatt about competing in the summer scavenger hunt, he said that he would do it for Cara. Noelle and Wyatt worked together and completed every clue except the last one, which was released while Wyatt was at summer camp. Noelle quickly went to the bank and was the first to submit the correct answer. Cara’s mother, Trisha, said, “Wyatt called me [about giving Cara the $1,000]. I thought he was playing a joke on me, so I said, ‘Come on, Wyatt.’ I didn’t believe it until Noelle got on the phone.” The Erbers and the Kieltys are neighbors. Wyatt’s best friend is Connor—Cara’s older brother. Wyatt said, “Cara’s always nice to me, so I’m nice back. She likes to lie on top of me, and if I put my legs out, she puts her legs out, too.” On 21 May 2012, Cara was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. She has gotten a transfusion and the induction portion of her chemotherapy regime. The treatment plan will take two and a half years, and the cure rate is 90 percent to 93 percent. Trisha Kielty said about Cara, “We know she’ll get sick again and be back in the hospital at some point. But for now, when you look at her, you don’t see a sick child. You see a sassy little girl who smiles ear-to-ear every time she sees Wyatt.” Noelle Erber explained one way that Wyatt knew about cancer: “About two years ago, a group of us in the neighborhood started a bake sale club to raise money for pediatric cancer research. We thought this would be a good way to direct some of our energies, and Wyatt always helps bake dog cookies to sell.” Noelle added, “I told Wyatt the other night that I couldn’t be more proud [than] I am of him.  He just looked at me and said, ‘Why?’ I told him I didn’t have the hours it would take to explain it to him.” The Kieltys wanted Wyatt to spend the $1,000 on himself, but he told them that he wanted “to pay for some of Cara’s chemotherapy.” Trisha Kielty said, “Noelle said we didn’t have a choice in this. I love that kid dearly.” Rachel Case, the marketing specialist at First Clover Leaf Bank and the person in charge of the scavenger hunt, said, “Wyatt’s big heart and sense of caring is beyond his years. We want to recognize Wyatt for the hometown hero that he is. I just get goose bumps thinking about what he did.” Edwardsville Neighbors in Need, which was founded by Kathie and Chad Opel, are matching Wyatt’s $1,000. In addition, the Cara R. Kielty benefit fund has been set up—at First Clover Leaf Bank—to help defray medical expenses.

For More Information: Kathie Bassett, “Caring for Cara.” The Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 24 August 2012 <http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/local/article_795600d0-ed8e-11e1-9e8f-0019bb30f31a.html>.

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