“It’s only God and no one else,” Newcastle teen defies odds

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NEWCASTLE, Okla. - Caleb and Clayton Freeman were on their way on December 19 to a University of Oklahoma basketball game when Caleb's pick-up spun out of control on I-35 near Riverwind Casino.

Alex Stout was behind the wheel of his big rig hauling a full load, full speed when Caleb's truck stopped directly in front of his semi.

"Once his vehicle lost control, it spun out and came directly in front of my lane," Stout said. "I knew I couldn't stop. I knew I was going to hit him. I just... There's nothing you can do at that point."

The semi tore into the boys' truck, T-boned at Caleb's door.

"I thought he was like, I thought he was dead," Stout said.

Brad Frakes had also been on his way to the OU game that night. He stopped to help.

Frakes called the boys' parents. He tried to disguise the panic in his own voice.

"My phone rang. It was Caleb, and I answered it," said Caleb's dad, Jeremy Freeman. "There was this man on the other end very frantic. I will never forget that."

Frakes actually pulled Clayton from the passenger seat. The younger brother was unscathed.

"I remember looking over at Caleb, and he was shaking," Clayton said. "I was scared. I didn't really know what to think."

It was a first glimpse at the toll of impact.

Caleb was unconscious, wracked by the force of the collision. His brain had been scrambled inside his skull.

Both boys were rushed to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City; Caleb was in critical condition.

"A nurse pulled me to the side, and I said, 'I need you to level with me. You just got to tell me the truth,'" Jeremy said. "And, she said, 'Sir, we need a miracle.' And, that moment, my heart dropped."

In that moment, they started to pray the God of miracles would move a mountain for their son.

"Even when she said 'We need a miracle,' inside my heart, I knew," said Caleb's mom, Emily Freeman. "We're going to get a miracle. I believe that."

Jeremy is a pastor. He and Emily are part of a family of believers who put God's promise to the test.

"I'd be lying if I said there were times I didn't doubt that," Jeremy said. "Your humanity gets in there, and you look at your son and you think, okay, if he does wake up, what's he doing to be like? What's going to be there?"

For weeks, Caleb didn't wake up. He laid in the ICU comatose, paralyzed, wavering between life and death.

His brain had been so rattled by the impact of the wreck it had stopped running his body. Ninety percent of patients with this type of traumatic brain injury never wake up.

One month after the crash, an air ambulance flew Caleb to Denver's Craig Hospital for specialized treatment. The Freemans actually looked at several specialized rehabilitation hospitals around the country and chose Craig because of their reputation for family-focused recovery.

The Freemans moved their oldest son, along with the entire family.

Caleb has five brothers and sisters: Brittany, 17, Clayton, 15, Audrey, 9, Luke, 3, and Addi, 2. They all came.

The family of eight moved from Newcastle, Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado to stand with their big brother and help him heal.

"I would do anything to be with Caleb and be with my family," Clayton said. "So, it was the best decision for Caleb, I'll go. No hesitation."

When they first arrived at Craig Hospital, healing was slow and uncertain. One full month passed without any significant improvement.

So, their army of prayer warriors got louder, and Caleb woke up. Then, the first sign Caleb was in there.

"As long as he has the will, there's going to be a way," said Craig Hospital Occupational Therapist/OT Floor Supervisor Amy Berryman.

Nearly three months after the crash, still speechless, Caleb wrote his name.

"So, that was the first day that I really started to think this is going to change a lot," said Craig Hospital Speech-Language Pathologist Megan Butz.

Then, the floodgates opened, and Caleb started to speak.

Through it all, the Freemans found comfort and community on Facebook. Their page 'Pray For Caleb' grew to 50,000 followers - friends and strangers faithfully praying for their son.

At Craig Hospital, Caleb is focused on re-building the areas of his brain devoted to communication. The mess of neurons severed in the wreck are re-routing around broken pathways and firing once again.

"Caleb is unique in that he's making a lot of progress very quickly," Butz said.

The same thing is happening in the gym where Brittany, Clayton, Audrey, Luke and Addi go every day to help.

"Once things started clicking, it's like they haven't stopped clicking," Brittany said.

"It's amazing to see all his progress and all God is doing in his life," Clayton said.

Caleb has climbed a mountain. Somehow, he seems to gain momentum going uphill.

"He is so motivated," Emily said. "We say 'Do you want to stop?' He's like 'I'm tired, but I'm not going to stop.'"

Caleb is fueled by a supernatural determination. He believes his strength is not his own.

"It's only God, and no one else," Caleb said. "All the healing is because of Him. All the progress is because of God. He's been with me through it all. Without Him, I wouldn't be alive."

Caleb's speech is coming back. He is fighting hard for his words.

Every strained syllable is a battle-line drawn in a war he refuses to lose. Every day his family sees a little more of Caleb in his eyes.

"I do think there will be some things that are different about him," Brittany said. "But, he's still Caleb, and I'm encouraged by that."

The family draws on encouragement that stretches the globe.

Their Facebook followers log on daily for updates on Caleb's accomplishments. They are watching faith conquer fear.

For years, Caleb shared his faith on the basketball court and the cross country track.

Even though his circumstances are profoundly changed, Caleb's purpose has not.


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