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Courtesy of Cathy Williams

Boy connects with Skype and vice versa

Lucas, 7, uses technology to attend class

BARSTOW • Cathy Williams posted a thank-you note to Skype on Facebook; the company, which has more than 27 million likes, responded in kind by reposting it this week.

Williams’ son is Caleb Lucas — a home-bound 7-year-old with a heart defect who began using Skype in October to connect with classmates. Susceptible to outside elements, he now engages every Friday morning in lessons at Cameron Elementary School.

“How amazing is that?” Williams said Thursday.

Skype also posted the thank-you — a photo of Caleb holding a sign that reads, “The Sky(pe) is the limit for me now!! Thank-you!!” — on their Twitter account.

“I’m so thankful,” Williams said, “and that thank-you card was never meant to do what it’s doing right now.”

Lucas was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a serious and congenital heart condition. Medical setbacks have left him with the cognitive ability of a 2-year-old.

Several months ago, Williams began clearing out a room in the family’s Barstow home to make way for a classroom for Caleb. She even detailed the process on the “Fight for Caleb’s Classroom” Facebook page.

The thank-you note garnered the attention of the company Monday. 

Skype receives a handful of stories monthly about individuals using their video-chatting software in various ways: viewing theater events, attending support groups or learning how to oil paint from distant teachers. But Caleb’s particular story is unique, a Skype official said.

“When stories like Caleb’s come through, you can’t stop smiling,” said Wendy Norman, director of Skype Social Good. “It’s magic for someone like Caleb.”

Norman said the company first became aware of Caleb’s journey after reading an article in October, which appeared simultaneously in the Desert Dispatch and Daily Press.

“We’re planning to keep in close touch with Cathy and Caleb,” said Lauren Gould, senior account executive for Kaplow — Skype’s public relations firm.

Norman said it is even possible that Williams will be asked in the future to share Caleb’s story at Skype events.

“(Caleb) represents a group of Skype users that are changing their lives through connections to others they would otherwise not be able to have on a daily basis,” Norman wrote Thursday in an email.

To assist other children like Caleb and their families, Williams started the nonprofit Babies So Special.

For more information, search “Babies So Special” on Facebook or call Williams at 760-987-6072.

Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com.


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