Levi Horton has never let blindness or Glioma Astrocytoma slow him down. So a recent diagnosis of cancer sure wasn’t going to stop him from fulfilling a promise he made several years ago to the family of baby Hezekiah “Kiah” Goad.
Armed with three other members of Team Levi from Stonesville, North Carolina, Horton traveled more than an hour away to take part in the Goad Strong Golf Tournament held Sept. 8 at Blue Ridge Country Club. The tournament was a fundraiser for Kiah, a local three-year-old who has undergone 11 brain surgeries for hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.
Horton, 20, was diagnosed with Glioma Astrocytoma at the age of 18 months, which he has battled ever since. An optic nerve was severed during surgery when he was six, which caused his blindness. About six months ago doctors found that tumors had returned on his spine, however an experimental medication has helped shrink the tumors. Horton knows all about overcoming the odds, which is why he wanted to fulfil that promise to Kiah’s family.
“The Goad family has been close friends of mine for a long time. I told them a long time ago when we first became friends that anything they were having trouble with or if there were any fundraisers for Baby Kiah, I wanted to take part in it and be there with them,” Horton said. “Anything I could do to help them, whatever the case may be, I would be there for them. I know what they have been through and what they are going through. I know in my situation, the Lord has brought me through it and I know if he can help me as much as he has he can do the same for Baby Kiah and his family.”
And that appears to be exactly what is happening for Kiah. His mother, Carrie, said Kiah underwent his 11th brain surgery on August 1. Since that time, the family has experienced a rollercoaster of devastating to incredibly optimistic news.
“They were discussing bringing in Hospice, but then we went for a follow-up and the surgery went so well they now are saying if we stay on top of things Kiah could have a good lifespan. It completely flipped from what they first told us,” Carrie Goad said. “The golf tournament was wonderful. It raised about $2,000 for Kiah’s medical bills. It started foggy and it made us nervous, but it ended up being a great crowd. Levi came and played golf for Kiah and he was so excited to see Kiah. It meant a lot to us that the community always reaches out for us. Levi is amazing. I am very thankful that he came. He’s an inspiration that Kiah might defy all odds just like Levi does.”
Horton’s father, Cas, served as pastor of Galax First Assembly of God for 11 years until the family moved to Tennessee in 2012. Cas is now the pastor at Christian View Pentecostal Holiness Church in Stonesville, N.C. Levi Horton also serves as an evangelist there as he continually writes gospel and inspirational music. He taught himself to play the drums at age 11 and the harmonica at age 14.
“He’s an inspiration to us,” Cas Horton said. “He never gets discouraged and he never lets us get discouraged. Even when we get these bad reports like when his tumor turned to cancer, his response was, ‘I don’t have time for that. I have sermons to preach’. Even when we get discouraged, he tells us we can’t.”
And despite his obstacles, he always finds the joy in even the smallest things. For instance, a friend recently gave Levi three tickets to a PGA golf event in Greensboro, N.C. at the Wyndham Golf Course. Levi, his father and one of his dad’s golfing buddies took the tickets. While there, the family’s golfing buddy talked a company with customized putters for the pros into letting Levi test out golfing equipment. After making a couple of 10-foot putts, Levi moved out to 15 feet. After making that putt, something special happened.
“All of the sudden, it got quiet and I heard a whole bunch of guys go, ‘Yeah,’ real loud. And my dad and myself and friend turned around and there was about nine or ten pro golfers standing on the other side of the green watching me putt,” Horton said. “They all came over to me and shook my hand. I wore a Wyndham golf hat that day and they signed the bill of my cap for me. It was awesome. And it was awesome to be at the fundraiser for Kiah. I know the Lord has brought me this far and I know he can do the same with Kiah.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN