Caelon Arthur needed help. And Rick Davis was the man to help him.
Caelon is a 5-year-old from Wake Forest who’s suffered mysterious strokes since he was 2. Doctors weren’t quite sure what was wrong with him until recently. After the Arthurs appeared on “The Today Show,” doctors in Maryland recognized similarities between Caelon and some other children. They examined him and determined that he was missing a specific protein that was causing the strokes. Doctors are now attempting a treatment for him, but it is unclear as of yet whether it will work. And years of dealing with the strokes is an expensive endeavor.
“The medical bills are piling up, and it’s hard to keep up with everything these days, “ said Caelon’s father Tony, a Rolesville firefighter.
And that’s where Davis stepped in.
Davis is the founder and co-chair of the North Wake Chapter of the American Wine Society. A few years ago, he heard about a special wine named Colby Red. It’s named for Colby Groom, a boy who was born with a heart defect that required surgery. He did eventually have the surgery, but Colby wasn’t content with his own survival. His father, Daryl, was a winemaker, and Colby wanted him to make a special wine that could be sold to help other families.
Davis loved this story.
“It was such a noble project that I could hardly wait to find a way to partner,” he said.
When he learned about Caelon, he knew the time had come.
“I just let the winemaker know that we were leveraging the strength of Colby Red and the purpose of Colby Red to help a local family,” he said.
So, on July 28, the North Wake Chapter of the American Wine Society joined with the local American Heart Association and Colby Red Wine for a wine tasting, silent auction and fundraiser at the Factory in Wake Forest.
Final numbers aren’t in yet, but Davis estimates that the event could eventually raise up to about $3,500. Daryl Groom agreed to match whatever money was brought in up to $5,000. But in a recent email to Davis, Groom said he would just go ahead and donate the full $5,000 regardless.
“I’ve literally got tears in my eyes just thinking about what an awesome difference your incredibly generous support is going to make for Caelon and the Arthurs,” Davis said in an email response to Groom.
The fundraiser itself was a mixed affair, with both wine aficionados and others who were just there for the charity.
“I think we had people who didn’t drink wine,” Davis said. “They just came and paid their money and participated in the auction.”
Davis said that helping is just part of who he is. He spent decades in the Army, and after he retired he worked for the American Red Cross.
“I have just enjoyed immensely helping others. It is just part of my nature,” he said. “And frankly it is part of the nature of all of us when given the opportunity to make a difference.”
And it certainly makes a big difference for the Arthurs.
“We are totally blessed. It’s a beautiful thing for someone to reach out like that,” Tony said. “It gives you some faith in the world.”
Tony is also retired military and receives health insurance as a result. But he said that changes in the health care system are hurting his wallet.
“As of late, since things are changing … a lot of things get dropped from retired personnel first,” he said. “So we’ve lost a lot of care due to that. Things are starting to cost a lot more than they’re used to.”
And though the strain is great, Davis said that Caelon lives unencumbered by the psychic stress one would expect.
“He is the most intrepid, invincible spirit,” Davis said. “He doesn’t know he’s sick. He’s just a fun-loving person.”
If you want to donate to the cause, you can send checks earmarked for Caelon to the North Wake Chapter of the American Wine Society, or you can go right to the source:
Caelen Arthur, P.O. Box 158, Rolesville, NC 27571.
And while you’re at it, get a bottle of Colby Red and drink a glass for Colby, Caelon and all the other sick kids hoping for a chance to live happy, healthy lives.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.