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Caton Courage Team Spreads Immunodeficiency Awareness
Mom Kellye and Dad Cody are suited up and ready to walk at the San Francisco Zoo on Saturday, with son Cannan and daughter Sladyn. It was a walk for the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), which is the national patient group for people living with PI. Known official as Primary Immunodeficiency (PI) disease; Cannan has been diagnosed with PI. Photo Courtesy Of The Caton Family

With his long blond hair and easy smile, you wouldn’t know Cannan Caton spent the first few years of his life in and out of hospitals.

The Escalon seven-year-old, son of Cody and Kellye Caton, was ultimately diagnosed with a Primary Immunodeficiency, PI, disease but there were plenty of times when it was touch and go for Cannan.

“It was so scary when he was young,” admitted mom Kellye. “We were completely lost … he had ear infections, he had strep throat, he was always on antibiotics; he had five surgeries by the time he was three-and-a-half.”

It was when a lymph node biopsy was done at UCSF that doctors started to ask the right questions, which eventually led to the immunodeficiency, ID, diagnosis.

Many people who suffer from the disease go years without being properly diagnosed, Kellye said, making the family even more grateful that Cannan’s diagnosis came early and treatments could be started.

He receives donated plasma every three to four weeks, his mom said.

“It’s like he gets a new immune system every 28 days and now he’s out there playing baseball, riding his dirt bike,” she explained. “He works on the dairy with his dad every day.”

Cody and Kellye have been married for 12 years and, in addition to Cannan, they have a nine-year-old daughter, Sladyn and a two-year-old son, Colter.

Cannan is in second grade and older sister Sladyn is a fifth grader, both currently attending Valley Home School. Colter is enrolled at The Learning Tree Preschool in Escalon.

When Cannan’s diagnosis came, the Caton family was also introduced to the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), which Kellye said was another gift.

“They helped to educate us, prepare us and gave us a new community of people,” Kellye said.

The type of immunodeficiency Cannan has strikes approximately one in 25,000 people.

Cody and Kellye were honored to have the opportunity to testify before Congress in April, at the Immunodeficiency Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

“Cannan asked if we got to meet the president,” Kellye said, chuckling. “When we told him no, he lost interest.”

But the Catons were glad to speak up for their son and others like him facing immune system disorders that are often life-threatening.

The latest event surrounding the IDF involved the whole Caton family, plus lots of friends and relatives.

Cannan was chosen to lead the annual Walk for PI event at the San Francisco Zoo, an event hosted by the Immune Deficiency Foundation, the national patient group for people living with PI. The walk was staged on Saturday, Aug. 19.

“Our team was Caton Courage. We were able to raise $2,900 and this is the first time they’ve had it in person since 2019,” Kellye explained of the walk. “We had 47 people that came to support our team.”

She said Cannan was overwhelmed, asking “Are they all here for me?” as they got ready for the walk.

“It was great,” Kellye added. “We did the walk and we got to tour the zoo; the IDF will utilize the funds raised to do research.”

With 11 years as a Labor and Delivery nurse, Kellye said dealing with her son’s illness and trying to figure out how to help him was a totally different set of challenges than she faces in the workplace.

“It’s really important that people know about immunodeficiency, it is so much more common than people know,” Kellye said.

Events like the coordinated walk with others affected by the disease at the San Francisco Zoo on Saturday can only help get the word out, she added.

“They had a DJ, some breakfast items for us and they honored every team there, did pictures for us,” Kellye said. “We all walked together around the zoo.”

And while it takes about 1,000 donors to make up each plasma donation that Cannan needs, Kellye shared that the family is eternally grateful for those donors.

“He is able to pretty much have a normal life,” his mom said.

A full entourage of family and friends turned out in support of seven-year-old Cannan Caton of Escalon, who was leading a walk to bring awareness to PI, Primary Immunodeficiency disease, on Saturday, Aug. 19 at the San Francisco Zoo. Photo Courtesy Of The Caton Family
Young Cannan Caton, 7, gives a thumbs up while receiving donated plasma; he has to have the treatment every three to four weeks to bolster his immune system. Photo Courtesy Of The Caton Family