Lehigh County, Pennsylvania – It’s heartbreaking that we’re reporting on the loss of a young boy, dubbed as Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office “Little Sheriff”, who passed away earlier this week due to a degenerative brain disease.
Kaleb Holder was only 12-years-old when he passed away on Wednesday, February 19th, while in hospice care at his South Whitehall Township home.
🔵🔵 OFFICER DOWN 🔴🔴
12 year old Honorary Sheriff Kaleb Holder succumbs to rare brain disease after a valiant and courageous battle.
Rest Easy, Sheriff Kaleb.
We’ve got the watch from here, kiddo. https://t.co/ZHgCGEhQY0
— War Medic (@91B4Life) February 20, 2020
Kaleb’s mother, Janelle Livingston, remember when something wasn’t right with her then-8-year-old son in 2015. She noticed her son was beginning to have difficulty with his school work out of nowhere:
“The things he knew before he didn’t know any more. He was diagnosed with attention hyperactive deficit disorder and given medications that didn’t work. It became clear that whatever he had couldn’t have been ADHD.”
Young Kaleb was then scheduled for a brainwave test with another pediatrician.
Then, the day after that test, tragedy struck an unsuspecting family.
He had a seizure at school and was rushed to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.
Kaleb was then diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy in January, 2016. Livingston couldn’t believe what the doctors were telling her that day in 2016, that her 8-year-old son would lose his ability to see, walk and talk – all within a year.
Livingston recalled the disbelief she felt in that moment:
“I thought the doctor was crazy. I was looking at my son, running and playing like any normal child, and couldn’t imagine what the doctor was telling me was true.”
Sheriff Joe Hanna from the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office had learned of Kaleb’s then-recent diagnosis, and also found out Kaleb had a huge admiration for police, sheriffs, and firefighters.
Sheriff Hanna decided that he wanted to give Kaleb a special experience. The department hosted a special day for the youngster at the sheriff’s office, letting him try on various pieces of deputy attire and then swearing him in an honorary “sheriff for a day”.
The day that little Kaleb took his oath to serve and protect, he stated the following of the experience:
“It felt like a dream.”
Later that year on December 21st, 2016, Kaleb took his last step. Livingston stated:
“From that point on, he was bedridden.”
Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, is a rare genetic disease that destroys myelin, the protective sheath surrounding the neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
From that point on, he remained in home care with his mother. Kaleb was in his mother’s arms while she sat in a recliner this past Wednesday when he passed away.
Livingston noted on how she was there during her son’s final moments:
“I felt his last breath and his last heartbeat. What’s kept me going through this whole ordeal is the support I’ve had from many amazing people.”
The Lehigh County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page released the following statement, when the news broke of Kaleb’s passing:
“It is with a heavy heart that Sheriff Hanna and the entire staff of the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office share with everyone the sad news that at 0700 hours this morning our “Little Sheriff” Kaleb Holder lost his battle with Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).
Kaleb was surrounded by his mother Janelle, family and friends. Kaleb and his family served as an inspiration to all of us here at the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office.
May God rest his Soul, and may his memory be eternal.”
According to Kaleb’s obituary, the day he was made sheriff for the day carried a great impact on his life:
“He loved life, and all kinds of law enforcement and first responders. He lived to one day serve his country.”
And law enforcement loved him. Kaleb is being laid to rest with full police honors on February 27th, with visitation services being held prior to at the Cathedral Church of St. Catharine of Siena.