Candon, 9: Half a brain, full of heart (with photos)
Lockwood, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Lockwood is a small, tight knit community. Locals say "blink and you'll miss it." But missing it Friday evening was nearly impossible. Red painted Main Street for the homecoming of one little boy. It's been three weeks since Candon Westervelt, 9, has been home. Weeks spent recovering in Baltimore, following life-changing surgery. In anticipation of his return, family and friends lined Main Street, waiting to catch a glimpse of the boy who has brought a community together. "Welcome home," people yelled, holding signs and wearing red T-shirts with the words "Candon's Cure" on the back. Candon's story unfolded last November when he was diagnosed with Rasmussen Encephalitis. R-E is neurological condition that causes frequent seizures. Candon had up to 50 seizures every month with little or no warning. The only known cure is a hemispherectomy. On April 25, surgeons removed the right side of Candon's brain and all affected tissue. His school medical aid says his recovery is nothing short of miraculous. "We went down twice to see him," Judy Curtis said. "The first time he was very slow. But the second time we went down, it was amazing. You wouldn't believe it was the same child. He was jumping up, walking on his own. It was amazing." His mom says he's been seizure free ever since, something his community was ready to celebrate. "I just hope he realizes that people support him and that he's not alone in this," said John Palumbo, Candon's art teacher at Elm Street Elementary. As word spread that Candon was near, kids jumped up and down and parents shed tears. He rolled up in a red convertible, top down, smile on. With cheers, and his mom there for support, he even got out of the car to take his first steps back home. His supporters ran up to give him high-fives, handwritten cards and words of encouragement. With an much uncertainty that preceded Candon's daylong surgery, Friday's homecoming was a certain victory in a long road to recovery.