The First Treatment is Scheduled!

Yes, you have read that correctly. In two weeks from today I fly to the Dominican Republic to receive my first stem cell treatment on my spinal cord using my own adult stem cells taken from my bone marrow. I am balancing between nausea and ecstasy as my excitement and nervousness collide. I want to deeply and sincerely send love and thanks to so many of you who have given your time, money and voice to help me reach this huge first step in my journey. It is because of you that this is possible. Whether you donated or shared this blog every little bit is a contribution and I am honored to be so supported. I give you my word, I will work my hardest.

Before I go into the exciting details I have two very important pieces of info that we still need some help with. First, we have raised the money for the treatment and some of our travel expenses, but we have some remaining expenses to cover including some hotel, food, customs tax, and airport shuttle for four people. Our goal is to raise $2,500 by Wednesday the 18th. Those of you who feel you can help we'd be forever grateful. Second, because we must pay for the physical therapy out of pocket and I'll be needing some adaptive exercise equipment, also the second stem cell treatment within three months, we will be continuing the fundraising process through the blog. If you wish to become involved or have any questions please contact us through the blog email.

One such fundraiser that we are thrilled to announce is our dear friend Joy Lohr Kelleher from Gainesville, GA is going "Bridge 2 Bridge", an open-water swim over 6.1 miles on Lake Lanier. She has this to say...

"Dear Family and Friends,

I am undertaking a 6.1 mile open-water swim on October 13th and I need your support, prayers, etc. I have been training very hard all summer and have 8 weeks to go! This is an unbelievably difficult swim especially for me being very new to the sport.

I am doing this to raise money for the Caleb Bartlett Foundation. Caleb is from St. Augustine and went to St. Augustine High. At the age of 16 he had a terrible accident in a pool resulting in a devastating spinal cord injury. Caleb is a wheelchair user and is undergoing intensive therapies to try to maximize his functioning. He is a gifted writer who has documented his experiences including what it is like living with a spinal cord injury and in fact experiencing a traumatic injury. The monies I raise will go to his foundation to help him and others with spinal cord injuries to receive treatment and to raise awareness of water and pool safety. I invite you to read Caleb's blog. I encourage you to scroll down and read from his first blog on. Prepare to be moved. 

If you can and are willing to sponsor me in this swim I greatly appreciate it. Donations can be made directly on his blogspot site via paypal or you can send me a check in my name and I will send his foundation a check to include all of the donated money I receive.

If you are not in a position to donate, your support is also greatly appreciated. Words of encouragement, emails, phone calls, facebook messages all go far to keep me motivated and on track.  I've never done anything like this and some days I feel like this goal is insurmountable. This week so far I have put in 10,000 yards in the pool with 5000 more to go over the next two days. When I am not working, I am in the pool or doing other training activities to prepare. My shoulders hurt most of the time and my hair is a tangled mess from the chlorine. I could bore you with many other examples of the hardships training for this event has brought to my life but nothing I have experienced and will experience is a fraction of what Caleb and others with spinal cord injuries endure on a daily basis. I get up at five am to swim before work and most nights I swim after work as well. I have to keep up this grueling schedule if I have any hopes of swimming in open water in October for six miles!  Swimming in Lake Lanier is so much more challenging than swimming in a pool. First of all, it is a very deep lake! I still have a long way to go to prepare for this. 

I have a wonderful support crew who will be with me in kayaks and paddle boats guiding me, feeding me and supporting me during the swim, a big thanks to them! And with your positive thoughts and support I just might make it!

One final thought... Caleb's story impacted me greatly from the very beginning. I was one of the medical social workers that worked with him and his family immediately following his injury. We have recently reconnected and I think the world of him. 

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Much love to you all.


Bridge2Bridge (non sanctioned)
Sunday, October 13th
Pre-Race Meeting: 7:30am/Start: 8:00am

-Gainesville Marina (Dawsonville Hwy to the Browns Bridge)
-Kayak support is mandatory/ Hall County EMT is notified of event
-Drop off/Car parking @ Gainesville Marina

The initial swim course map is attached. There will be plenty more details to follow soon, but please feel free to respond with any questions!"

Joy's Route
I personally wish to thank Joy from the bottom of my heart. It's one thing to donate, but to go to these lengths blesses me so much. Thank you Joy.

So how does this whole stem cell treatment thing-ama-jig work? Well... on Monday, September 23rd my family and I fly to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I will be treated at the Intercellular Sciences Clinic which is one of the most successful and experienced in the world. I will rest at the hotel until the next morning. I will be driven to the clinic where under twilight sedation bone marrow will be extracted from my hip bone. I then return to the hotel and rest again for 24 hours while my bone marrow cells are processed into stem cells in a lab. On Wednesday morning I will go back to the clinic. Under local anesthetic a tiny catheter will be inserted into my ephemeral artery at my upper thigh. The catheter will travel all the way to my neck where the stem cells will be injected to the injury site via the arteries that serve my spinal cord. Then the tube is removed, my leg is bandaged tightly and after a few hours rest I return again to the hotel. I have to lie still as much as possible for 24 hours and then the bandage is removed. I take it easy for the day on Thursday, eat some much-needed food, and sleep a little more. Friday afternoon I fly home from my first stem cell treatment exactly 19 years plus 1 day to that day, September 26, 1994 when I came home after five long months in the hospital from a spinal cord injury. Don't ever give up on your dreams.

So the next posting will be after I return and I am sure I'll have much to share. Thank you all again for the outpouring of faith, hope and love. I guess I really will... see you on the flip side...

Thanks for reading.


  1. I am so happy for you and your family Caleb. Sending love to you and yours.

  2. This is so awesome Caleb!! You'll be in my thoughts and prayers as always!

  3. Caleb, I am so happy to hear about this endeavor. You are a special young man and I am praying for you and your family.

  4. I'm so excited for you! Love you and I'll be praying for you. Can't wait to hear about it when you return.

  5. Hoping for smooth travels and 1st treatment procedures!! I'm so exciting for you, that its actually happening.
    Lots of love,
    Karen and Terry

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