Jan 9, 2013 8:10 PM by Victoria Fregoso-Q2 News
BILLINGS - 5-year-old Caroline Cronk is known to family and friends as Calle. She's described as a vibrant girl who loves school, playing soccer and is always moving around.
"She'd never walk. She danced, she skipped, we were always entertained," said Calle's grandmother, Linda Cronk.
But it was this past November the Cronk family's lives turned upside down when they received a call from Calle's father, Kevin, who lives Boston. "Our son said, mom and dad, I need you to be strong. I have the worst possible news there could be for you."
Calle was diagnosed with DIPG, which stands for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. It's a tumor that sits near the brain stem that impacts a person's face muscles and ability to walk. Just over 200 children are diagnosed every year. "By about 2 years, less than 20-percent of the patients are expected to be alive. Over a long term period of time, less than 2-percent of the patients are alive," said Pediatric Oncologist Courtney Lyle.
Right now, Calle is undergoing radiation treatments and taking medication. There is no known cure for DIPG. "The research funding has been quite limited for this type of tumor but that's something that a lot of the research organizations are working at as far as trying to figure out other therapies that would be beneficial and trying to improve the outcome for these children that are diagnosed with DIPG."
That's where old friends come in. Calle's dad Kevin is a graduate of Central High, here in Billings. When his friends heard about Calle's condition, they stepped in. In hopes to raise money for DIPG research, they're holding a comedy benefit, at the Billings shrine auditorium on Friday, January 18th. "The four comics we have lined up today are Auggie Smith, Lucas Seely, Ty Barnett and Mark Dawson, " said Matt Duray, who grew up and went to high school with Kevin Cronk.
Tickets to the comedy benefit are $20 each. They can be purchased at Uberbrew, Connect, Yellowstone Bank, TNT, the Shrine Auditorium and tickets300.com. Even though high school was 20 years ago for these friends and the Cronk family is thousands of miles away, they didn't hesitate to lend a helping hand. "It was horrible, I have children and I can't imagine going through what they're going through," said Rita Cady.
Since her diagnosis, the family's motto is "miracles happen."
"We are a strong spiritual family, so we know, whatever the outcome is, she's going to be alright," Cam Cronk said. "She's an angel already. She is a little angel. And whether she gets to remain our earthly angel, or a heavenly angel, she's always going to be with us." Linda added.