SOUTH OGDEN — A 13-year-old South Ogden boy checked into Primary Children’s Hospital Tuesday for another surgical procedure among many he has already endured in his life. But for this trip to the hospital, a new support team let him know “he’s got this” with 400 cards from around the world.
“He has a huge heart: super caring, super tough,” said CJ Warner’s mother, Tami Havey. “He has a great attitude about him.”
Like many seventh graders, CJ likes to play sports and video games. But unlike his peers, CJ has Hirschsprung Disease, a birth defect that adversely affects his bowels.
He had his first surgery at Primary Children’s Hospital at age 2 and only has half of his intestine left after seven major surgeries. This week, CJ is getting tests to determine what he needs in the next surgery.
“His longest stay in the hospital was four weeks,” Havey said.
This time in the hospital, CJ will be bed-ridden and fasting for a couple of days. But, his mom said he never feels sorry for himself.
“He’s just…this is how it is, and I’m gonna rise above it,” she said.
This time around, CJ’s mom had a surprise for him. She asked her friends on Facebook to send CJ letters of support. She wasn’t looking for money. She wanted something special to lift up her son during a very tough time.
“All I just wanted was somebody to just to mail him a letter saying, you’ve got this,” Havey said.
After she posted the request, she had no idea what response she would get, so she prayed at least one letter would arrive. CJ ended up getting many more.
“The letters just keep pouring in,” she said, showing off a large basket of envelopes. “This one is from the Philippines.”
At the last count, CJ had received approximately 400 letters and cards from all over the world — and letters of encouragement and love are still arriving every day.
“They just want you to know that you’ve got this,” Havey said.
As they looked through the letters and read a few out loud, tears of joy flowed down CJ’s cheeks, and his mother’s.
“I want you to stay strong and keep your head up, always,” CJ read from one of the cards.
One card even had a little humor from his big sister.
“I’m sorry that things are kind of poopy,” CJ read with a laugh.
He’s thankful for new friends during a difficult week.
“I never thought that there would be that many people in the world that would take time to write a letter to me,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
He plans to send a thank you note to each of his new supporters.
“It really helps me know that I’m not in this alone,” CJ said. “That there are people that are going to help me through it.”