Charles Caldwell, Jr. | Young Hero Award from Alabama Public Television
EDUCATION

Charles Caldwell, Jr.

Ramsay High School

Birmingham, Alabama

Most candidates for the Young Hero honor are nominated by a single person. In the case of Charles I. Caldwell Jr., he was nominated by a team of teachers from Ramsay High School in Birmingham. This “team nomination” is indicative of the regard the faculty has for Charles.

At the age of 9, Charles was diagnosed with disseminated glioneuronal tumors. The tumors had spread throughout his brain and spine, requiring him to undergo chemotherapy for a year. He suffered from seizures associated with the presence of the tumors. After the year of treatment, the spread of the tumors seemed to have been halted, but Charles was left with neuropathy (nerve damage) in his arms and legs. By 2008, he had developed scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and had to undergo corrective surgery, as much as was allowable due to the tumors on his spine.

In November of 2011, Charles was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. The condition required the placement of a shunt, a one-way valve that drains the excess fluid from the brain and carries it to other parts of the body. In July of 2012, an MRI indicated the growth of one of the tumors—which means that Charles is presently undergoing a new regimen of chemotherapy.

In addition to these medical battles, the family (Charles, his mother, and his younger sister and brother) endured a great family tragedy. Charles’ father—Charles I Caldwell Sr.—passed away within a month after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

In the face of all this, Charles never ceased the struggle to not only survive, but to excel. French instructor Julian Brooks wrote, “Charles embraces life and greets everyone with the most positive attitude. I have never seen him in a bad mood, even when he is weak and nauseated by treatments.

Charles is a member of the percussion section in the Ramsay High School Band. During his freshman year, though challenged by his illness, he was able to participate in the marching band. Band Director Anita Dye commented, “It was a joy to see him attempt and become successful at the maneuvers and routines. He serves as a wonderful example for others to follow.”

An excellent scholar, Charles also participates in the Golden Pen Club, the tennis team, and the school choir. In service to his community, Charles is a volunteer at the McWane Science Center, the community garden program, and the Brother Bryan Mission to feed homeless people. Active in the ministries of his church, Charles also serves as one of the church’s drummers.

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For Fiscal Years 2016-2020. These educational programs and services of Alabama Public Television made possible by the generous support of the following contributors:

Community Events & Engagement
  • Books-A-Million, Young Heroes
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, Be My Neighbor Day/Young Heroes
  • Brookmont Capital Management, Young Heroes
  • C. W. Daniel Charitable Trust, Young Heroes
  • Medical Properties Trust, Young Heroes
  • Fred Rogers Productions/PNC, Be My Neighbor Day
  • WNET-CPB, Sesame Street in Communities
General Support
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
  • Public Broadcasting Services (PBS)
Learning Adventures
  • Alabama Bicentennial Commission
  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • American Graduate
    a program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Malone Family Foundation
  • Robert Meyer Foundation
  • Sybil Smith Foundation
  • Troy Univiersity
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
Media Library
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate, Getting To Work
PBS Kids Programs
  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama Power Company
  • Books-A-Million
  • Children’s of Alabama
  • HEAL Alabama
  • Medical Properties Trust
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Professional Development for Educators
  • Community Foundation of South Alabama, PBS KIDS EdCamp
  • Sybil Smith Foundation, PBS KIDS EdCamp
Workforce Development
  • CAWACO, Career Forward
  • Southeast Alabama Works, Career Forward