Pee Dee Lodge #25 in Darlington County, South Carolina, has a feel-good story about a young man with a big dream. Meet Caleb Gainey: a soon-to-be 18-year-old in September. Caleb has a big dream. “I want to be a cop,” Caleb excitedly expresses when asked because he wants to follow in his daddy’s footsteps.
His dad, Weldon Gainey, is an investigator with the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Department. Caleb’s dad has been a police officer for 10 years, which has made a profound impact on Caleb’s life.
Caleb’s parents, Weldon and Michelle, know that Caleb’s dream will never come true. He will never be able to do the things that others his age will be doing after high school. However, from Caleb’s parents, we discover the story of this remarkable young man. You see, Caleb is a special needs kid. Michelle tells us how it all began.
“You’re never truly prepared for having a special needs kid,” she says. When she gave birth to Caleb, he was absolutely perfect (and he still is).
When Caleb was about 6 months old, his mom noticed he was not checking the boxes that society wanted to be checked. Around 10 months old, his parents found a doctor who listened to their concerns and believed them when they said that something just wasn’t right.
That began the whirlwind of testing that led them to a diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS). Cleveland Clinic describes this condition as affecting multiple parts of the body. The major features of this disorder include characteristic facial features, delayed growth and development, intellectual disability and seizures. Research shows that children with WHS do not make it past two years of life. Caleb is already a walking miracle.
Over the last 18 years, Caleb and his family have endured much suffering, but one thing has remained constant: Caleb’s ability and willingness to love others. Both of his parents express that he is truly one of the most loving and special little boys you will ever meet, although he is very much adult-sized at around 6 feet tall. “To know Caleb is to LOVE Caleb,” his parents say.
Caleb’s mom shares her thoughts about her son. “While we live an incredibly unique life that can be filled with worry and fear, we choose to celebrate Caleb! He is one of the most loving 18-year-olds you will ever meet! He is quiet when in a crowd but talkative beyond measure if he knows you! All he wants is for everyone to love and be proud of him, and we do, and we are! He loves Hot Wheels and easily has 5,000 or more, but with every new Hot Wheels he obtains, you would think he had none. [He] loves to get his hair cut, yet he always wants to wear a hat. To know Caleb is to truly know what love is. He truly makes us happy, loved and proud beyond measure.”
Both his parents and sister are beyond thankful to celebrate Caleb’s 18th birthday — an adult in society’s eye but forever their baby boy!