Members from several Newton churches will be making pots full of soup for the eighth annual Soup Supper Benefit on Jan. 26.
This year, the event will raise funds to offset the medical expenses of 11-year-old Caleb Hoshaw, son of Linda Hoshaw and grandson of Kevin and Sharon Hudson.
"He had a lot of breathing issues as an infant — a lot of eating and swallowing issues," Hoshaw said. "Doctors would change formulas over and over again."
Doctors treated Caleb for acid reflux, but he still underwent numerous bouts of pneumonia.
"By the time he was 3 years old, I had to put thickener in everything he drank," Hoshaw said.
Doctors finally found the flap to Caleb's throat was stuck open, allowing him to aspirate food into his lungs. The resulting bacterial infection caused pneumonia.
At five years old, Caleb was able to stop going to Kansas City for treatments. Then, at age 10, he started having vomiting issues again.
"He's into sports now and he's super athletic," Hoshaw said. "He plays football, basketball and baseball."
At first, Hoshaw thought the vomiting was caused by Caleb's sports activity.
"He would complain about his stomach hurting and then throw up and be completely fine," Hoshaw said.
When the issues persisted after the sports season was over, Caleb was sent to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
Caleb was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis in December of 2016. There is no known cure for the disease, which attacks the esophagus, making eating and swallowing painful.
"Certain foods trigger the disease to make it worse," Hoshaw explained.
Doctors instructed Hoshaw to cut wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish from Caleb's diet.
"At first, it was overwhelming," Hoshaw said. "The first day after getting that call, I spent three hours shopping for dinner."
Each food group has to be individually tested over several months to see if it causes a flare up of the disease — which means that Caleb must undergo an endoscopy and biopsy every 12 weeks. He has had four surgeries in the last year, and it will take several more years for the food testing process to be completed.
Monitoring foods to make sure they are not cross-contaminated is a constant challenge for Hoshaw. While classmates can eat cupcakes and other treats for special days, Caleb cannot join in.
"I have to bring in fruits and vegetables for him, because he can't have any of that," Hoshaw said. "Those are things Caleb has found hard, but has overcome in the past year."
Hoshaw is working to share her knowledge of the disease with others who may be experiencing symptoms from it but are chalking it up to another issue.
"It's important to get that word out because it is an emerging disease. This is something that the last generation didn't hear about," Hoshaw said. "I'm definitely out to be an advocate where I can."
At least 15 soups, a drink and desserts will be available for a freewill offering at Zion Lutheran's Soup Supper — an event benefitting Caleb that is supported by members of several churches.
Melissa Keenan, a member of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, will be bringing homemade chicken and noodles for the Soup Supper Benefit for the third year in a row.
Keenan rolls her homemade noodles out with a rolling pin and uses a pizza cutter to cut them into strips. She will fill two stock pots with her soup.
"It's nothing fancy. I don't put onions, carrots or celery in it. It's just chicken and noodles," Keenan laughed. "I like to keep it simple."
Keenan decided to support the Soup Supper Benefit with her cooking when she learned about it five years ago.
"I do enjoy it. I just thought this is how I can contribute," Keenan said. "I know they've raised money for firefighters for equipment and then the reserve policemen."
That focus on supporting members and organizations in the community is appealing to Keenan.
"A lot of people think churches don't do anything and they do a lot," Keenan said. "Even though I don't go there, I can contribute to their cause, because it helps the community."
The Soup Supper Benefit will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at Zion Lutheran Church, 225 S. Poplar in Newton.
Attendees can also purchase soup mixes or raffle tickets to win a handmade quilt, Kansas City Royals tickets and Kansas City Chiefs items. Home decor from McBroom Woodworking, passes for tickets and concessions to Chisholm Trail 8, a Sand Creek Station golf package for two donated by the Newton Police Department and gift cards to restaurants like CJ's Pancake House and Charlie's will also be raffled off.
Raffle tickets are $1 per ticket or six for $5 and can be purchased in advance by calling Peggy Gerber at 316-804-2954 or Linda Hoshaw at 316-871-8692.
Donations are also being accepted at Heartland Credit Union, 2201 S. Kansas Ave. in Newton, under "Moving Caleb's Mountain."
For more information about eosinophilic disorders, visit http://apfed.org.