Kid Captain with terminal genetic brain disease heads to Outback - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Kid Captain with terminal genetic brain disease heads to Outback Bowl

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(KWWL) -

One of the Hawkeyes littlest, but biggest fans is headed to the Outback Bowl. 4-year-old Reed Havlik from Jesup, who has a terminal genetic brain disease, was chosen as the Kid Captain for the Outback Bowl game. 

Between speech and physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and even weekly visits to the chiropractor, Reed doesn't get many chances to just be a kid. 

By looking at him you couldn't tell, because Reed is just as curious and active as any other 4-year-old. But the little Hawkeye is battling a type of Leukodystrophy known as Vanishing White Matter Disease. The disease is a degeneration of the brain.  

"He's lost the ability to walk, arms, strength and stuff, he has shakiness when trying to color, he has some speech delays," said Reed's mom Erika Havlik. "But he could lose the ability to see, hear, and swallow. He'll have organ failure, and it is terminal, so life expectancy is five to ten years from the onset of the disease."

Reed is one of just 200 people worldwide who have been diagnosed with the terminal disease. But without a doubt, he's just as tough as his favorite Hawkeye Player CJ Beathard. After CJ held Reed at a game, they've been buddies ever since. 

Erika's coworkers wanted to see their favorite Kid Captain make it to the Bowl game, so they raised enough money to make it happen. 

"They wanted to see Reed go to the game and go see Mickey, and that kind of got the ball rolling," said Havlik. "And from there, we just got the trip planned. We're able to give him one more of those experiences, that he might not experience in life. Just trying to pack as many things as we can into life that we can."

Havlik says there is some progress being made with research oversees, but currently there is no cure for Vanishing White Matter. 

Reed and his parents will leave on Saturday for the Outback Bowl, and will make a visit to Disney World as well. 

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