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Carson Bergeron, 7, learned Saturday that nothing beats meeting a celebrity.
Cowboy, host of Cowboy in the Morning for 96.5 The Wolf, has an image of being a tough guy, but the country music radio personality showed his softer side when he visited the La Salle boy a few days after his brain surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. Carson attends Northwest Elementary in La Salle and is a long-time listener to Cowboy’s radio show.
“He was quiet and shy,” said Cowboy. “Maybe even a little star-struck.”
Carson’s father, Brian Bergeron, said Carson was excited to meet Cowboy and was glad he took the time to visit them. Cowboy said he and Carson played video games and talked, and he gave the boy $5 to take his medicine. Before he left, he invited Carson to come to his house and go swimming with his boys.
“He’s been talking nonstop about it,” Bergeron said about Cowboy’s invitation.
Carson then made a request that Cowboy play “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band on his show for him. Bergeron said Carson had 101 things to say to Cowboy after he left that he was too shy to say while he was there.
“He brightened my day,” Cowboy said about the visit.
Cowboy heard the boy was a fan of his show and was asked to visit him in the hospital early last week. Bergeron said he and Cowboy have been Facebook “friends” for a while and met briefly last year at a Concert for a Cause event, but they never really talked until Saturday.
“He’s been amazing,” Bergeron said, adding that Cowboy offered more help by way of emotional and financial assistance.
Carson was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor with a cyst two years ago after he was hit in the face with a bat while playing baseball with his brothers, Christopher, 9, and Camron, 10. After the CT scan in the hospital, doctors noticed the tumor and after months of observation found it was growing.
“He was a normal boy,” said Bergeron about Carson during the months of observation.
Bergeron said the only difference was Carson suffered severe headaches from the pressure and sometimes would immediately go to sleep after he got home from school. Carson would then wake up to eat and do homework and then sleep again.
The Bergerons were referred to Peoria, and after a CT scan doctors advised that Carson undergo surgery to remove the tumor.
“It was the size of a credit card,” said Bergeron about the tumor. “It was 2 inches thick.”
During the surgery, the cysts popped and doctors had to work to stop the bleeding but were unable to remove any of the tumor. His brain filled with fluid and doctors began giving him medicine in hopes it would absorb back into his body.
Bergeron said his wife, Angel, was his rock and barely left Carson’s side throughout his time in the hospital.
Carson was supposed to go home Friday, but took a turn for the worse and had to stay over the weekend. However, on Monday at noon he underwent a CT scan that showed he was well enough to go home and was released from the hospital at 3 p.m.
Bergeron said the process has been emotional for Carson and the months ahead will be a challenge because he will have monthly hospital visits to monitor the tumor.
“He understands but he is not sure how to deal,” said Bergeron.
Carson also will have to refrain from participating in sports because of the possibility of being hit in the head. Bergeron said this would be a big adjustment for Carson and is thinking of asking if he could be a bat boy or assistant manager for his brother’s baseball team. Carson will have to wait two weeks to see if he can go back to school and will not be able to attend physical education classes or go out for recess.
Bergeron said Carson’s headaches have lessened but still affect him. However, Bergeron says he might be confusing them with pain associated with the recent surgery.
The Bergerons have been pleased with all the community outreach they have received both from friends and complete strangers. Cowboy posted the Children’s Hospital link for sending e-cards to the family, along with pictures from his visit on 96.5 The Wolf’s Facebook page, and so far they have received 13,000 “likes” and 1,000 “shares.” When Carson leaves the hospital, they can continue to receive the e-cards. Bergeron said they have received dozens already and have pasted Carson’s walls with them.
“He lights up when he sees them,” said Bergeron.
Carson will also get a chance to meet some more local celebrities through Dreamwave Wrestling in Oglesby, which gave the boy ringside tickets and backstage passes. Bergeron said Carson enjoys wrestling with his brothers — another habit he will have to give up until he is better.
Bergeron said the process has been an emotional and mental struggle for him and his wife as they learn to balance work, bills, taking care of Carson and spending time with their other two boys. Some of the community members have reached out to the Bergerons in efforts to have a benefit for Carson. The Bergerons said they have not committed to anything, but they are talking about it.
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