HOUSTON, Texas — The community of High Island held two benefits over the weekend to support the family of Caden Strimple, the 14-year-old who was severely injured last weekend at a water park.
It’s love in the form of fajita plates and a hall full of friends.
“You see the results here tonight, we’re all in this," High Island ISD Superintendent Travis Grubbs said.
An entire community is bringing what comfort it can to a family they call their own.
“I think he would be overwhelmed if he knew what was going on right now," Grubbs said.
While Caden heals in the hospital, his hometown heals alongside him.
“When he’s heavily sedated, he’s able to move or squeeze your hand or nod yes or no," Caden's brother Austin Gibson said.
Caden nearly drowned last weekend after getting sucked into an intake drain at Fun Town Water Park. His brother Austin said doctors have now taken Caden out of his medically induced coma.
“He’s doing a whole lot better today. My mom gave him a sponge bath and that brought his heart rate down a lot so that was very good," Austin said.
He said Caden was actually up and walking around after being revived at the water park Saturday night. He was taken to the hospital, but his brother said the severe internal damage to his stomach wasn’t found until the next morning.
“If everything goes good, he should be there for about five months. If other things pop up, it could be seven to eight months in that room," Austin said.
The teen has multiple surgeries ahead, but he has an army of supporters behind him, including his best friend and classmate, who just also happens to be named Caden.
“We’re together 24/7 basically. They call us 'Caden-squared,'" Caden Perea said.
Caden knows his friend won’t be back the first day of school, but he can’t wait until they’re walking these halls together again.
“Because he’s funny, goofy, nice, sweet," Perea said.
They know it’s a long road to recovery for the J.J. Watt Super-Fan. Watt’s jersey is even hanging in Caden’s hospital room.
“He’s a big fan of him. He’s always wearing his jersey," Austin said.
But it’s a road this family won’t have to travel alone.
Another benefit is being held on Wednesday at Jose's Cantina in Crystal Beach.
There’s also an online fundraiser set up to help the family with medical expenses.
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