Mother seeks normalcy for son with rare immune disorder

Eight-year-old Caleb Baird longs to feel like an average kid. To find that normalcy, he and his mother, Stephanie Frederick of Rochester, will go to Florida to be in the company of others who know exactly what they are going through.

Three years ago, Caleb was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency, which, despite its name, is a rare, incurable disease that makes its victims extremely vulnerable to infections.

Since his diagnosis at the age of 5, Caleb has made regular trips to the hospital for 10-hour infusion treatments that essentially create an immune system for him because his T-cells and B-cells don’t communicate on their own. Every treatment is followed with a round of fluids. The cycle often makes Caleb sick, weak and achy.

“He’s not the little boy in the bubble, but he kind of is,” Frederick said. “What immune system he does have doesn’t work. It doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.”

Because he’s susceptible to infections that can become life-threatening and because of the side effects of treatment, Caleb often misses out on things other children enjoy, such as school and birthday parties.

“The quality of life is tough,” said Frederick.

That’s one of the reasons why Frederick wants to take her son to Orlando, where the Immune Deficiency Foundation National Conference in June will bring together families that deal with the disease on a daily basis. Participants will learn about the latest treatments, hear about research and share ideas and stories.

“We can be around people who are going through similar experiences,” said Frederick. “He gets to meet other kids that are like him, and I get to meet other parents. It’s a very different life. You don’t easily find that commonality.”

To raise money for the trip, the Austin Holiday Inn will have a fundraiser Saturday. The event includes a band, door prizes and a silent auction. Proceeds also will benefit the Primary Immune Deficiency Foundation.

The silent auction will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the upper deck of Torge’s Live. Light snacks will be served. The band Good for Gary will perform at 9:30 p.m., and all $3 cover charges will be donated to the fundraiser.

The Caleb Baird Wellness Fund also has an account set up at Wells Fargo in Austin.

To help

What: Fundraiser for Caleb Baird Wellness Fund and Primary Immune Deficiency Foundation.

When: 4 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Torge’s Live.

Donations also may be made to: Caleb Baird Wellness Fund

Attn: Dwayne Osterhout

1701 Fourth St. N.W.

Austin, MN 55912

For more information about the event, call Dwayne Osterhout, general manager of the Holiday Inn, at 433-1000.

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