CHICAGO — A little boy is showing everyone what it means to be courageous and beat the odds, fighting his way through recovery after he was run over by a semi in a freak accident.
On September 19, six-year-old Caleb Clausen was riding an electric scooter when he lost control and headed towards a nearby road. He was struck by a passing tanker.
Caleb remained in a medically-induced coma at a Peoria hospital for three weeks. He suffered a laundry list of injuries, including a fractured skull, two broken femurs and a broken pelvis.
"We were told by a neurologist and another doctor that Caleb is never going to eat on his own again, he’ll never breathe on his own again, and he’ll be stuck in a vegetative state the rest of his life," dad Ben Clausen said.
But from the beginning, the little central Illinois superhero bucked every odd against him. Just a month after the accident, Caleb was eating on his own while healing from the 11 surgeries it took to repair his broken body. His fractured skull required three surgeries alone. He suffered brain injuries, which caused memory issues and altered his personality.
In their community in Walnut, IL, west of Chicago, family and friends rolled up their sleeves, raising money to help the family of six afford medical expenses and pay for childcare for three other children, giving Caleb's parents time to focus on his recovery. And a digital community of supporters assembled around a Facebook page called "Prayers For Caleb," offering love and prayers as the family shared updates on his progress.
As his healing journey continued, Caleb spent four weeks working on his speech, eating and strength at the Shirly Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago. Just 94 days after an accident no one imagined he would survive, he rode a bike and walked again for the first time.
"A lot of doctors could tell Caleb is very stubborn and he always has been, and that actually played a huge role in his recovery," Ben said.
Caleb left the ability lab just in time for Christmas, heading back to Walnut with an escort along the way. Many neighbors in the small town of 1,500 people lined the streets to quietly welcome the beloved family back home.
While Caleb still has a lot of recovery in front of him, his family says his memory and personality are returning. He's started laughing and smiling again, and the mischievous spark is back in his eyes.
"We were told by an educator [at the Shirly Ryan Ability Lab] that she has every reason to believe we will be getting our old son back," Ben said. "He’s definitely our miracle child."
Now that he's home, he will continue his physical and occupational therapy three to five days a week at a center about an hour from his home.