Rusk boy loses battle with cancer day after superhero visit

Rusk boy loses battle with cancer day after superhero visit
Updated: Jun. 29, 2018 at 3:46 PM CDT
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Pictured are Caleb and his family. (Source: GoFundMe.com)
Pictured are Caleb and his family. (Source: GoFundMe.com)
Caleb Whiteley (Source: GoFundme.com)
Caleb Whiteley (Source: GoFundme.com)

RUSK, TX (KLTV) - A 10-year-old Rusk boy whose love of superheroes prompted a visit by Superman and Spider-Man that was captured in a Facebook Live video lost his battle with cancer Thursday night.

Caleb Whiteley had been battling two types of cancer - acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia - since April of 2018, according to Tara Nicole, a friend of Caleb's family.

Nicole said the celebration of Caleb's life will take place at the Borren-Conner Funeral Home in Jacksonville at 10 a.m. on July 3. Attendees of the event are urged to wear bright colors or superhero-related clothing. A memorial service will follow at noon at the Covenant Church on the Hill in Rusk, Nicole said.

The family is trying to raise money for funeral expenses and their remaining medical bills via a GoFundMe page that was set up in Caleb's honor, Nicole said.

Nicole and her friend Stephani Gibson put the superhero visit together in an effort to lift Caleb's spirits.

In the video, Superman and Spider-Man pay Caleb a visit and speak to him as he lies on a couch in the living room. At one point, Spider-man gives Caleb a cup with a straw, so he could take a drink. Then the two superheroes posed with Caleb and hugged Karen Ackley, Caleb's mother.

Nicole said although it wasn't obvious in the video, Caleb smiled and did his best to talk to Superman and Spider-man.

"He was more alert for that than he had been in a while," Nicole said.

Steven Yates, the man who dressed up like the Man of Steel, went through similar hard times when his mother-in-law, who died recently, battled cancer, and he knew what Caleb's family was dealing with, Nicole said.

"He knew he wanted to help," Nicole said.

Eddie Breen was the man dressed as Spider-Man in the Facebook Live video, Nicole said.

Nicole said that her son and Caleb were in the same class at school the year Caleb was diagnosed with cancer. "It really hits home, especially when your child is their age and friends with them," Nicole said.

In the post on the GoFundMe page, Gibson wrote that doctors told Caleb's family on May 31 that he had maybe two weeks to live.

"Caleb has touched the lives of so many, and he is a true superhero!" Gibson wrote. "His family will appreciate your continued support, love, and well wishes."

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