HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Hayden Savickas is just like most 11-year-old kids: He loves his iPad, hockey and Star Wars. But there’s more to the little guy than meets the eye.
“One of his kidneys has completely failed and was removed,” his mother Rebekah Savickas said. “His other kidney is working but monitored closely because it’s on the downhill.”
On top of that, Hayden has challenges with his brain, bowels, emotions and scoliosis, among other medical problems. His mom said he’s been fighting for his life since he was born early at 24 weeks weighing only 1 pound, 12 ounces.
“To see your child have to suffer, you wish you could do it instead of him,” she said.
While most kids Hayden’s age are preparing to head back to the classroom, he is preparing to head to the next patient room. He said it has a hard pill for him to swallow.
“Difficult sometimes, but most of the time good and then most of the time not good,” Hayden said.
The journey takes an emotional toll on his mother, but each month, a group of Omicron Kappa Epsilon brothers from Hope College in Holland steps in to lighten her load.
They met Hayden four years ago at a fundraising event for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and now spend time just hanging out with him, a service that has changed both his life and theirs.
“We’re in the living room of a frat house playing Fortnite and everyone is laughing and Hayden can feel like a kid,” Truman Ross, a Hope junior, described how they help their 11-year-old friend.
Outside of the fraternity house, the brothers take Hayden go-kart racing, play basketball with him, throw him birthday parties and play with Nerf guns with him.
Hayden’s relationship with the brothers is a bond his mom said keeps him going when times get tough.
“I just want him to know I’m there for him,” Ross said.