Boy opens heart, empties wallet to help area toddler needing transplant

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) An 8-year-old Central Texas boy surprised a roomful of about 600 adults at a weekend fundraiser in Waco when he opened his heart and his wallet to help an 18-month old boy he’s never met who’s waiting for a heart transplant.

Third grader Kale Castillo (left) surprised a roomful of adults when he opened his heart and wallet to help a desperately ill toddler he’s never met. Barron Shoemaker (right, with his mother) is in the hospital awaiting a lifesaving heart transplant. (Courtesy photos)

Kale Castillo, a third grader at Spring Valley Elementary in Hewitt, wasn’t even supposed to be at the adults-only fundraiser for Barron Shoemaker on Sunday, but he moved some to tears when he handed over the money he’d earned by doing chores and saved from birthdays and tooth fairy visits.

Kale’s mother, Amanda Eads, doesn’t know the toddler’s family, either, but she has been following the boy’s journey on Facebook since Barron was hospitalized more than a month ago.

Evidently she must have mentioned it at some point because when she picked Kale up from his Dad’s home Sunday, Kale asked her a question that caught her by surprise.

“He asked me if I was going to that fundraiser he heard me talk about a week before,” Eads said.

“I told him ‘I think it’s almost over’ and he said ‘but we need to go’ and then he said ‘I need you to take me home first to get my wallet. I want to give Barron money for a new heart,’” she said.

“I lost it,” she said.

Eads called the Lee Lockwood Library in Waco to make sure the fundraising event was still underway and when she found out it was, she rushed Kale home to get his wallet, and then back to the library.

When Kale arrived he marched straight to the front of the room, another move that surprised his mother.

“He went up to the front all by himself,” she said.

“He is very shy and does not like to speak in large in groups and we all know that was a huge group of people. So the fact he got up there for him was a big, big deal.”

“I don’t think he realized what a big deal it was,” Eads said.

“People were hugging him and crying. And one point he had tears in his eyes. I asked him why and he said that he was just happy. I told him it was good tears. I don’t think he realized what he’d done until after he’d done it.”

Wes Waller, a local businessman known for his big heart who has helped plan big fundraisers for paralyzed Waco Firefighter Garth Goodwin as well as Layla Evetts, a Central Texas girl who is fighting terminal brain cancer, was emceeing the event when Kale made his way to the microphone.

“I asked him why he wanted to do this and he said ‘I just wanted to help get Barron a new heart,’” Wes said through tears.

“Oh I could barely speak, barely interview him.”

Kale told Wes that he was willing to donate the $70 in his wallet he’d been saving as he took the money out to turn it over.

The gesture moved some in the audience to match the youngster’s donation and the $70 quickly grew to almost $2,000.

And by the end of the night, the event sponsored by the Waco Firefighter Honor Guard had grossed more than $161,000.

“I’ve just never seen anything like it,” Waller said.

“People were fighting along with Barron all over Central Texas and the support was truly amazing,” he said.

Waller says that Barron’s parents say they want to repay the young boy they’ve never met for showing their son such love in a tough time by creating a college fund in Kale’s name.

Barron has received a Berlin Heart, a device that mechanically supports the hearts of patients with end-stage heart failure.

He remains on the list waiting for a new heart and will remain in Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston until he receives one.