HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kailua resident Caleb Pipes, 18, was selected to represent the U.S. Army as the Military Child of the Year.
The award is a big deal, considering there were nearly 300 entries in 2021.
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For Caleb, however, it is just one of his many accomplishments.
He is like most teenagers at first glance, ambitious and full of energy.
“I love to bike,” Caleb said. “And the nice thing about a bike is you can pedal for a little bit, you get tired, and you just sort of coast.”
Caleb has big plans for his future.
“I am planning on studying mechanical engineering with a minor in robotics,” Caleb said.
Caleb has already achieved so much at just 18 years old. He beat cancer.
“Around Fourth of July, I was having some pain in my abdomen. One of the doctors checked it out, and found a mango-sized tumor. They removed it July 6th. It was cancerous,” Caleb explained.
Caleb was just a freshman in high school when he was diagnosed with cancer.
“I did six months of chemo, a month of radiation, and then a bunch of recovery,” he said.
Fighting cancer at such a young age is already hard, but Caleb did it all while being away from his best friend, his dad.
His father, Army Col. Gregory Pipes, was stationed thousands of miles away in Nepal at the time. Caleb flew with his mom and siblings to California for treatment.
“I heard the reports of what he was going through, but I couldn’t help. It was very, very hard,” Gregory Pipes said.
Caleb’s battle was hard on the whole family, but just like a superhero would, Caleb did not let cancer stop him.
“They had to install a little metal port,” Caleb said. “I did joke that I was part Iron Man part the Hulk because I had a little piece of metal embedded close to my heart, and I was having radiation.”
That superhero mindset kept Caleb busy through the tough time.
“I put myself into a youth group. There was a robotics club that I got involved in,” Caleb said.
The family now lives in Kailua and Caleb is being honored for his accomplishments and resiliency.
Caleb was selected to be the 2021 Military Child of the Year for the U.S. Army.
“He’s a cancer survivor, world traveler, and eagle scout, and he’s just been a super star at everything he’s done in his life and he’s had a lot of adversity,” Robert Thomas, the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Homefront, said about why Caleb was selected.
Caleb’s parents could not be more proud.
“He has worked really hard, really hard in high school, and he’s worked really hard through cancer, having a fantastic attitude. It was amazing. It was fantastic to see him get recognition for that,” Caleb’s mom, Lindsay said.
So what’s next for Caleb? He is heading off to college in fall 2020 but he has already learned his biggest life lesson.
“Just keep… keep pushing, keep on swimming, and just keep going,” Caleb said about his advice to others.