Elementary school ups support for cancer-stricken student - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Elementary school ups support for cancer-stricken student

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Calder Wills is a 12-year-old student battling cancer at Herbert Hoover Elementary but he's not fighting it alone.

On Tuesday, the school hosted a bone marrow donor registry drive hoping to find Calder a match. Calder was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in February of 2016.

His mother, Brianna Wills, said Calder had a cough and a fever that would come and go but never would have suspected such a serious illness. An x-ray revealed a massive tumor across his chest.

"He had been at school that day. I mean that's how little we realized how sick he was and that's the scary part is he seemed like, he had a cough but truly he was truly at death's door," Wills said.

She said it was difficult at first but soon Calder started to improve and was then in remission. One day after his twelfth birthday, the family would learn that Calder had relapsed. 

Wills said their only choice now is for him to get a bone marrow transplant but Calder wouldn't find a successful match of the hundreds of thousands of people currently registered. Calder's three siblings, including his twin brother, weren't matches either, which is why the school hosted the registry drive in his name.

"We're just doing as much as we can to help the family and Calder in general. If we can't find Calder a match maybe we can find one for someone else," Adam Loria, Calder's 5th grade teacher, said.

Prior to the drive, the whole school turned out to show support to Calder walking around the Iowa City High School track chanting "Calder Strong" while holding signs with words of support.

Calder and his family waved back from where they watched on from the bleachers, a gesture that moved him to tears.

"He's shown a lot of toughness and courage through this whole thing to watch what he's gone through, it's been tough to sit back but at the same time to watch how he's kind of responded to everything it's kind of inspirational for everybody," Loria said.

Many people turned out to register and the process is a simple one. All that is required is a little bit of paperwork and a mouth swap and in three weeks people will know if they match with Calder or anyone else that is in need.

Those that missed the drive but want to help, can register online at http://join.bethematch.org/CalderStrong or visit any local drives.

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