Eleven-year-old burn survivor Kaden Howard hopes his experience will help other people find the will and determination to get better.
Recently, the Sylvan Lake student was named the 2020 Champion Child for the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
The title came with $500 for Howard to spend as he liked, so he purchased some video games.
Being named the child champion means Howard will attend various events over the next year, where he will tell his story and try to raise money for the Stollery and the Children’s Miracle Network.
Howard was camping with his father, and while gassing up his quad on a hot day during the May long weekend in 2018, something sparked, and he was engulfed in a ball of fire.
His mother, Kristy-Lee Bolton, said she is so grateful for those who helped, saying the oilfield training of the people nearby saved Howard’s life.
“They removed his shirt before wrapping him in cold, wet linens, and that is something I never would have thought of,” Bolton said, adding, “It took a minute and a half to get him wrapped up and into an ambulance.”
Before being admitted to the Stollery, Howard was taken to the hospital in Rocky Mountain House, and then transferred to Edmonton with the help of STARS air ambulance.
He was in a medically induced coma for almost two weeks, in isolation for 52 days, had several grafting surgeries to treat the burns that covered 70 per cent of his body from the neck down, and surgery on his arm.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. When he was in isolation, I couldn’t even touch him… We didn’t know what to expect and we just took it one day at a time,” Bolton said.
Howard defied all odds, and said he was determined to not only walk, but to live a normal life and to play hockey again.
One day, he woke up and told his mother that he was going to walk that day.
“I didn’t think much of it, but I told him we would try. He took eight steps that day,” Bolton said. “He took more the next day, and the next. We stopped counting after 300.”
Howard’s determination to be a normal child was so intense, that four months after the accident, he was discharged. Three days after being discharged, he was back in school.
One month later, Howard hit the ice with his hockey team.
Howard says he dreams of one day playing for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL.