Hayden Chipley and his family look forward to seeing a strong turnout from the community on Saturday, May 18 at the First Baptist Church of Wellington, located at 12700 W. Forest Hill Blvd. Starting at 5 p.m., Hayden’s Night of Heroes will raise money for the family of a seven-year-old with an unusual illness, helping defray the mounting costs of his treatment.
Hayden isn’t your typical first grader. He doesn’t eat ice cream or French fries, pizza or donuts. He has to go to a hospital in Colorado each year because he is fighting a rare disease of the esophagus called Eosinophilic Esophagitis. White blood cells from the bone marrow move into the bloodstream and migrate toward inflamed areas of tissue when he eats food. The food causes an allergy, and his body misunderstands the food. Instead of digesting the nourishment, it attacks it, causing inflammation.
Right now, Hayden’s diet consists of lollipops and white Gatorade, as well as an expensive drink formula that is not covered by insurance.
The Chipley family has a long road ahead. But mom Jennifer Chipley keeps her composure because she needs to be strong for her family. She talked lovingly about her son in a recent interview.
“My son is hilarious. He is funny. He likes to play baseball. He is athletic. Hayden is introverted by nature, and he’s a thinker. So, he will sit back and watch you, then join in the conversation. So, when he is silly, it just warms your heart,” she explained.
At his heart, Hayden is a normal seven-year-old boy.
“He’s a sweet kid,” Chipley said. “He goes to Binks Forest Elementary and loves it. He loves his friends, his family, going to church and being involved there. He likes Pokémon cards, Nintendo, all of that. He just likes to be active.”
At Binks Forest, his favorite teacher has been his Kindergarten teacher, Amy Hessler. “Whenever he can, he goes back to her class to help her,” Chipley said. “They just have a really neat relationship.”
The road ahead includes finding a treatment that will sustain Hayden over the long term. Right now, he needs an expensive drink called Neocate because it doesn’t cause a reaction when he drinks it. He also needs to travel to Colorado for the specialists to see him.
“The leading specialists and researchers in the world happen to be at the Denver Children’s Hospital,” Chipley explained. “So, when we started his journey when he was eleven months old, all of the doctors here used everything that medicine had known up to that point to treat him, but he was getting worse. So, they all determined that he needed to go to a specialist and a specialized hospital.”
The Chipley family must make a trip to Colorado every year to make sure Hayden is making progress. Sometimes there are setbacks in his health and the trips can multiply. But with a positive attitude and staying proactive, the family does what it must to make sure Hayden’s treatment gives him a chance at better health.
As a family, the Chipleys like to go to Disney World. They like to be together and play games, go swimming and go to sporting events.
“We do things that don’t have to do with food. We are blessed. We have friends who are like family. We go to their house, and they have a game room set up, so the gathering is not about food,” Chipley explained. “So, when there is a celebration, it’s not about the cake. It’s not about the ice cream. It’s just about spending quality time together.”
Hayden’s Night of Heroes aims to raise money for Hayden’s treatment. The event starts at 5 p.m. to register. A guest speaker is planned for 6 p.m. The auction winners will be announced at 6:15 p.m., and the dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Hayden’s Night of Heroes is asking for monetary donations, but also auction items that can be auctioned the night of the event.
There are a variety of ways for the community to help, aside from attending the event. Monetary check donations can be sent to Hayden’s Heroes, c/o Sun Trust Bank, 12870 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414, or Hayden’s Heroes, c/o First Baptist Church of Wellington, 12700 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414.
Wellington residents can also donate auction items for the event. For more information, call First Baptist Church of Wellington at (561) 793-5670.