Richland First Grader Battling a Rare Form of Cancer Brings Comm - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland First Grader Battling a Rare Form of Cancer Brings Community Together

Posted: Updated:

RICHLAND, WA- After two weeks in his first grade class, Caleb Gallaher was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer called rhabdomyosacroma. 

Friday we went to his school, White Bluffs Elementary and talked with his teacher and a woman in charge of organizing a fundraiser for the Gallaher family. His teacher Dani Flanagan told us, "they went to the doctor, found out the results and his dad came in to tell me he had cancer".

After the diagnosis, Caleb had to exchange his school desk for a hospital bed. It was a challenge for Mrs. Flanagan to explain to the class where he went but she did her best, "I don't think they really understand the depth of it, but what they do know is he's in the hospital". 

Even though Caleb will be at Seattle Children's Hospital for ten months, everything from his desk to his artwork in the classroom remains. Mrs. Flanagan had the students make a book for Caleb and they send him packages from time to time. Mrs. Flanagan told us, "you know what made Caleb special, because a lot of these kids had Caleb in kindergarten with them and they knew him and so they made different pages of things that make him special". 

One student in Caleb's class made him a book on his own. Mrs. Flanagan explained the book, "it was all the things that this student wanted to teach Caleb about first grade and what games he wanted to play with him and recess activities that he was waiting for him to come back, the final page said the best thing will be when you come back". 

Aside from his teacher and classmates he affected other White Bluffs staff members too. Suzanne Goecke said when she found out the news she wanted to help, "anything that we can do at White Bluffs to help them, that's what we want to do and they're our family and we take care of our family". So Goecke did just that, "I just asked, I started asking questions, I asked JD who owns Fat Olives, I said, 'JD, what do you think about possibly' I was afraid to ask, he goes, what, and I said 'a spaghetti fundraiser for the family' and he said, 'sure when do you need it?'". 

The fundraiser is December 1st and will be held at White Bluffs Elementary School. The tickets are being sold at $10 for adults and $8 for children. All the proceeds will help the family over the next ten months. The school will also be selling bracelets that say "Team Caleb" and "Caleb Strong". 

If you want to purchase a ticket or a bracelet please call White Bluffs Elementary School at (509) 967-6575 or email The school asks that you make all checks payable to White Bluffs PTO.