OSKALOOSA, Iowa — Race drivers and others have been answering the call from an 11-year-old Iowa boy who wants racing stickers to cover his casket after he dies from leukemia.
Caleb Hammond’s uncle, Chris Playle, told The Des Moines Register that his family brought him home to Oskaloosa, about 55 miles southeast of Des Moines, after determining the painful treatments he’d been undergoing at a Des Moines hospital weren’t working and other options offered little hope. Playle says Caleb’s been home for about three weeks doing things an 11-year-old normally does, but that he tires easily.
Caleb has loved auto racing since the age of 2, when he started visiting his uncle at his home near the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. The two would watch as drivers parked their cars on the street before the track opened and then would head to the stands to see the colorful cars race around the speedway.
“He’s my racing buddy. It was kind of our deal,” Playle said. “I probably had just as much fun as he did.”
His passion for racing is what prompted the request for stickers. Playle said the stickers have been pouring in after social media appeals, helping to keep everyone’s spirits up.
Playle said the family is “just trying to do as much as we can with him while he’s here.”
Caleb’s got to experience racing first-hand on Saturday when he suited up in driving gear and sped around a dirt track in a stock car designed for children. A 12-year-old racer sat beside Caleb to help him learn to work the stick-shift and navigate the track.
Caleb’s father, John Hammond, told The Oskaloosa Herald that the entire family had been looking forward to the racing.
“A goal of his was to be able to drive a race car when he got older,” Hammond said. “It’s like a dream come true.”