Akron teen hoping to inspire positive change in health care debate

Akron teen shares story as health care debate rolls on

AKRON - A local teen is sharing his story in hopes of putting a face to the health care debate.

Caleb Thurman, 17, of Akron, has been in and out of the hospital as a child after he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In 2013, Caleb took his story to Washington D.C.

Today, his voice is still being heard as he pushes for a positive change when it comes to the debate on healthcare.

“It’s been a long road getting my health to where it is now.”

For years, Thurman received infusion treatments, about every 4-6 weeks, at Akron Children’s Hospital to help manage his symptoms.

“It got to the point where I would breakdown on the bathroom floor because the stomach pain was too much to bear.”

Caleb, a Firestone High School senior who celebrated his 17th birthday on Monday, was given the opportunity to share his story on the steps of Capitol Hill in 2013.

“A kid should live a normal life and not have to worry about ‘should I eat or should I get medicine.’”

Caleb and his mother, Charice Fort, talked to lawmakers about his journey through the healthcare system—and how policy changes, like cuts in Medicaid, could affect his life and countless others.

“I was drowning in financial medical debt,” said Fort.

Fort says without help the Ohio Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps, a state health care program, paying for her son’s leg braces – at nearly $3,000 a pair -- would be close to impossible.

Ultimately, Caleb and his mother hope lawmakers will take an in-depth look at their story and the many others who depend on funding to help families pay for needed medical care.

“The education that Caleb and Charice offer to those elected officials, doesn’t change a system overnight, but maybe it makes a difference in decisions made down the road help that next kid,” said Charlie Solley, government relations director for Akron Children’s Hospital. 

In June, Caleb was found singing alongside Jimmy Fallon when he made a trip to New York City thanks to “Serious Fun,” a foundation started by the late actor Paul Newman to help financially support camps for kids with special needs across the country. You can watch his appearance below: 

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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