Community escorts boy with cancer back home

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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) -- About three weeks ago, a 14-year-old Perry County, Kentucky boy was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

A Facebook group in support of Kaleb Maggard now has more than 1,000 members and has helped raise thousands of dollars to go toward Kaleb's medical bills.

About 100 friends, family and community members surprised Kaleb as he returned from treatment at the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital. Family members said they are thankful for so many in the community joining the escort to bring Kaleb back to his hometown.

"You see things happen to other people and you want to express your concern and help for them," said Kaleb's grandmother, Lynn Whitaker. "But when it comes home to you, that's when you realize how great the people are here."

Whitaker said Kaleb is showing great strength in his battle against cancer.

"We've had to make him ask for something for pain or maybe an upset stomach because he doesn't want to need help," said Whitaker. "He is a fighter."

After seeing the surprise, Kaleb said Tuesday was the best day of his life. He said he felt new inspiration in his treatment with so many people behind him.

"It gives me a lot of confidence," Kaleb said.

Kaleb's escort brought his to West Perry, where he is in the eighth grade. He was given a basketball signed by the players at the school during the pep rally that was held Tuesday evening. Kaleb's father said so many in the community have donated money to help with Kaleb's fight.

"Everybody just wants to help," said Kaleb's father, Kyle Maggard. "And that's the fascinating thing about people of the mountains. When tragedy strikes one of our own, we take care of one of our own. It's a unique. there's no other place like Eastern Kentucky, no other place like the Appalachian Mountains."

Kaleb's family members said he will continue chemo every third week for up to seven months.