In many ways, Wyatt Klute is a typical 14-year-old boy. He plays hockey and lacrosse, eats lots of pizza and is glued to his iPhone.
But 2014 has brought Wyatt down a road that, thankfully, not many middle school students have to travel: the road to recovery.
On March 24, 2014, Wyatt was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a relatively rare and extremely aggressive adolescent bone cancer.
Approximately 225 children are diagnosed with Ewing tumors across North America each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Only 1 percent of childhood cancers are of this variety.
Wyatt’s cancer started in his pelvis and metastasized to his lungs. His treatment plan, always subject to change, is intensive, involving 46 weeks of chemotherapy, proton therapy radiation and surgery.
An outpouring of community support has met the Klute family in this difficult time.
“It’s amazing – I can’t really put it in words,” Wyatt’s father, Eric Klute, said of the way Wyatt’s schoolmates, hockey and lacrosse teammates and their families, and total strangers have responded to his battle with cancer.
Just two days after Wyatt was diagnosed, fellow students at Northdale Middle School, Coon Rapids, dressed in blue to show their classmate they were thinking of him.
Always connected to social media, Wyatt saw pictures and showed them to his mom, Beth Klute.
“When Wyatt heard what they were doing, he smiled for the first time today,” Beth said on Wyatt’s Caring Bridge site.
Also the week Wyatt began treatment, a student designed sweatpants that featured the slogans “Kick cancer’s booty Klutie” and “#prayforwyatt,” both of which have stuck.
The sweatpants disappeared quickly – 180 pairs sold out in two days, according to Assistant Principal Bryan Carlson.
The Youth for Change organization hosted a movie night and dodgeball tournament May 13, planning to donate all proceeds to Wyatt’s family.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Holly Clark, the group’s adviser and a language arts teacher at the middle school. Youth for Change’s previous fundraiser, a penny war to support Free the Children, raised $400, so that’s what the group hoped to collect.
A crowd of 60 for the movie, 26 teams of six in the dodgeball tournament and a collection of donations allowed the group to take in more than four times that amount: $2,000.
Three days later, Where Everyone Belongs, a group of eighth-graders that mentors sixth-graders, put on an activity night to raise money for the Klutes. For $5, middle school students enjoyed a dance, carnival games, dodgeball and karaoke. Eighth-grade students’ admission fees were turned over to Wyatt’s family.
Wyatt’s friends haven’t left his side. Buddies from hockey and lacrosse shaved their heads with him to show their support.
Even though Wyatt rarely makes it to school these days – he keeps up at home with a tutor – he checks in with his friends over text message and Twitter, his mom said.
“He’s still able to connect with just as many people, if not more, than before,” she said. “I think [social media] has really been super helpful for him.”
Social media has allowed Wyatt to find Casey, a fellow teenage athlete fighting osteosarcoma. The two truly understand what each other is going through, Beth said.
It’s helped her, too, she said. She’s connected with other parents whose children are battling Ewing’s sarcoma and found Miles2Give, an organization that sends runners around the perimeter of the United States to raise money for and awareness about sarcoma cancer. Beth wants to join them this summer when they run through Duluth. June 2, they will be running for Wyatt.
June 2 is a significant day for the family, as it marks Wyatt’s first scan to check treatment’s progress.
“It sounds like his body is really responding well to the chemotherapy,” Beth said. “We’re really hopeful, optimistic.”
People are encouraged to drop by Cub Foods in Blaine, 12595 Central Ave. NE, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to bag groceries for Wyatt.
A benefit for Wyatt is scheduled from 4-8 p.m. May 31, at Maxx Bar & Grill, 17646 Central Ave. NE, Ham Lake. A $10 donation includes a taco bar and beverages, access to silent and live auctions, and more.
To learn more about Wyatt’s fight against Ewing’s sarcoma and how you can help, visit www.wyattklute.com.
Olivia Koester is at [email protected]