LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As we come to the close of National Volunteer Month, we want to share the story of Caleb Lammert, a young man who says volunteering has no time limit.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Caleb returned to his post at Norton Children's Hospital. His mother, Suzanne, said he started as a greeter at the hospital with his dog Obie. Then, he found his true calling.
"We decided one day to fill up a bag with candy," Suzanne said. "Caleb went off on his own and went to all of the units and just encouraged all the staff. He loves to tell jokes and he went and started giving out candy and all of a sudden it caught on that Caleb is the 'Candy Man.'"
With his bag of candy, Caleb helps boost morale and hopes to sweeten the days of the staff passing through the halls of Norton Children's. When they see Caleb and his warm smile, they are reminded that things are going to be okay.
Suzanne said Caleb has a seizure disorder that not many at the hospital know about. He started having seizures at six weeks old but didn't develop severe complications until he was a little older.
He was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder and, despite visiting doctors and specialists in New York, his family didn't have answers on how to help him. As he got older, Caleb's mother said he lost his balance and coordination as well as the fine motor skills in his right hand and arm.
By the age of seven, he was using a powered wheelchair to get around and he got his first service dog when he was eight.
In 2021, doctors said Caleb most likely has a rare genetic disorder that causes seizures. Despite his medical struggles, his mother said she feels comfortable letting him go through the hospital because she knows that help will be close by if he were to ever have a seizure.
"He can't be by himself in case he would have a major seizure, but being able to come to Norton and go up on the floors and to be independent on his own - this is a place for him to do that," she said.
Caleb is happy to be back at Norton, doing what he loves.
"it's a real pleasure," he said. "I enjoy seeing people I haven't seen for the past two years.
When asked if he liked his nickname as the 'Candy Man," he responded with a big smile: "Yeah."
Caleb said one thing he has learned through his experience is the importance of volunteering. He encourages everyone to try it.
"Make time in your schedule to maybe a take a break from your paid job," he said.
Listening to her son talk about his passion, Suzanne couldn't help but smile.
"The world just needs more Caleb and I would like to share him with everybody," she said. "He's such a good person that brightens everybody's day."
Brenda O'Bryan is the Manager of Volunteer Services at Norton Children's Hospital. She said he helps bring comfort and joy to both the staff and the patients.
"Caleb has such a welcoming and caring smile. The staff loves his candy treat visits and, every once in a while, you can hear one of his 'new original' jokes," she said.
Caleb graduated from Floyd Central High School with a 3.5 GPA, along with 15 college credits. Instead of attending college, he found his purpose, helping others.
Prior to the pandemic, Caleb had a busy schedule outside of his volunteering work. He attended weekly Bible study, a young adult program at church, and is on the Lou City Power Soccer team.
Things are beginning to open back up so his summer social calendar will be booked. Caleb is surrounded by love especially by family, his four siblings and Obie who joined the family in 2018.