Pony up for Caleb — Horses will be auctioned off Saturday

By Karen Rorie

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Friends of 10-year-old Caleb Miller and his family have ponied up a lot of help, financial and otherwise, to support the Millers in tough times following Caleb’s kidney transplant.

That help includes two ponies to be auctioned off Saturday at the Stewartville Sportsman’s Club as part of a fundraiser.

Teela and Missham are registered Pony of America horses donated by Caleb’s fourth-grade teacher, Kathy Pinke-Thorson, or "Mrs. P.T." They are valued at $500 each.


Pinke-Thorson made the donation because of the family’s spirit. "They are such a special, kind, gentle family," she says. "Caleb is a hard worker and he always has a twinkle in his eye."

Event chair Mark Hermann agrees. "Caleb is a go-getter. If you ask him to give 100 percent, he gives 125 every time."

Caleb has faced a lot in his young life. He was born with a blockage in his bladder that damaged his kidneys; Parents Kory and Christy Miller knew Caleb would eventually need a transplant, but expected it would be as an adult. But in June, during a routine checkup, doctors discovered that Caleb’s kidneys were failing and he would need the transplant much sooner than expected. Last September, Caleb received a kidney from his father.

Doctors soon discovered that Caleb had the BK virus that could lead his body to reject the new kidney. About 80 percent of Americans carry this common virus but don't have symptoms, but because Caleb’s immune system was weakened from the transplant, his body wasn’t able to fight the virus on its own, so he underwent two, two-month courses of anti-viral treatment.

Last Thursday, Caleb received a clean bill of health.

On Friday, he experienced abdominal pain and returned to the hospital for an appendectomy.

"You wonder how much one little guy can go through," says Christy.

Caleb is recovering well and is looking forward to being a normal kid again. Being sidelined has been the hardest part of his illness. "You have to miss out on all the sports," he says.


He enjoys wrestling, soccer and football, but he’s most looking forward to returning to play shortstop on the baseball diamond.

Because of the cost of his care, Caleb is no longer covered under the family’s health insurance. Although he does qualify for Medicare, it doesn’t pay for Caleb's medication and other supplies, so the family pays for them out of their own pocket, adding hundreds of dollars to their monthly budget.

He’s excited about the event on Saturday. "I think they are doing a good job, and I feel pretty proud," he says.

Rorie is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester.

For more on this story, go to

Caleb Miller benefit

Saturday, Stewartville Sportsman’s Club, 1735 County Road 6 S.W.

  • Silent auction: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Spaghetti dinner: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Live auction: 7 p.m.
  • Dance: 8 p.m. to midnight

Tickets are $5 each, available at the door or by calling Mark Hermann at 259-8091. Donations to the Miller Family Benefit also can be made at any Eastwood Bank location.


Stewartville Sportsman Club:

National Kidney Foundation:

American Kidney Fund:

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