Terminally Ill 11-Year-Old Obsessed with NASCAR Dies Weeks After Receiving High-Speed Wish


The story of 11-year-old Caleb Hammond, a racecar fan who was battling leukemia, swept the nation in August.

When readers first met Caleb, he had a heartbreaking wish.

Knowing his time on earth was slipping away, the brave little boy asked the community to send him racing stickers, to decorate his casket when the time came.

With great sadness, Caleb’s mother, Holly Kempf, said that her son passed away early in the morning on Sept. 10.

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“Our little Mr went peacefully in his sleep at 2:00 a.m. today surrounded by our families,” Kempf wrote.

“Before I was woken up being told he was getting ready to pass, he was smiling at me while I was dreaming. With my hand on his chest, I felt his last breath and a few last heart beats,” she said.

Caleb bravely fought leukemia since his diagnosis at age 9.

After learning the treatments were no longer working, Caleb and his family decided to stop spending their days at a hospital and focus on making family memories together.

Just after his 11th birthday in August, Caleb was surprised with a day at the racetrack.

With the help of a Florida Ferrari dealer, Caleb got to take a ride in a $3 million Ferrari around a dirt track in Iowa and was gifted a custom-made racing firesuit.

Caleb’s loved ones launched a GoFundMe campaign which raised over $30,000 to help offset medical and funeral costs.

“Words cannot describe thankful we are for each and every prayer, call/message, package/card, and donation we have received,” Kylee Hammond wrote in an update in late August.

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“Little did we know that Caleb’s story would have such a huge impact.”

But this brave little boy left a huge mark on all kinds of folks, both in and out of the racing community, for his positive attitude and determination to live the best days possible while he still had time.

According to WYCB-TV, a dozen race cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will honor Caleb by placing decals on their machines in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series on beginning on Sept. 10.

Our hearts go out to Caleb’s family during this time of grief.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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