Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth has been hopping helping cowboy kids here lately. Team roper Caden Cavness, 15, is fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma. Steer wrestler Cade Walker, who’s also 15, has yet to fully regain consciousness after his horse flipped in the practice pen the other day. Teen rodeo sound man sensation Walker Huggins, 16, has had two brain tumors removed, and just wrapped up radiation treatment after a Medulloblastoma diagnosis. And yes, that’s a long, scary word for brain cancer. As always, our rodeo family is rising to the occasion and rallying with prayers and support, in this case for Caden, Cade and Walker.
Caden Cavness is the son of single-mom Kelli Jo Shurden, who is the sister of Jennifer Williams, who is the wife of eight-time World Champion Team Roper Speed Williams. I visited with Uncle Speed last night, and he told me that Caden was diagnosed about a month ago with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Caden’s been in and out of the ICU the last couple of weeks with complications, had a surgery this week and just started chemotherapy.
If Kelli Jo’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she helped Speed drive—A LOT—in his glory days, and due to her unwavering commitment to Team Williams was often referred to jokingly as “Speed’s second wife.”
“Caden’s mom works at Wal Mart, and when COVID hit he started staying with us a lot,” Speed said. “He’s really worked at his roping, and has gotten to where he heads and heels pretty good. Caden loves to rope.”
I’ll mention that there was sudden dramatic weight loss and that Caden kept feeling cold when he shouldn’t have here, in case it might help someone else. Speed mentioned that a lot of people presume dramatic weight loss in teens is due to growth spurts, so this seems like information that should be shared.
How can we help? I’m told by many that it’s best not to include links to fund-raising sites, as it can negatively impact social-media algorithms. So if you’d like to help any of these awesome young cowboys, please use a simple Google search.
In Caden’s case, Google “Caden Cavness Medical Expenses.” There is also a Caden Cavness Benefit planned for June 18 at the Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Texas, which will include a Rope & Stroke, team roping, goat roping, Cooper’s BBQ, live and silent auctions, and live music.
“Eddie Priefert has donated NFR tickets and rooms at the South Point; they’ll auction off a Coats Saddle and some hunts, and some pretty cool stuff,” Speed said. “I think it’s going to be a big deal. I do know it’s going to be helping a great kid.
“Caden’s tough, and I keep telling him there’s light at the end of the tunnel. He took care of the Speed Trainer at the South Point in Las Vegas for me last December, and he’s a very good worker. Caden never complains.”
I watched Cade Walker make the run of his young steer wrestling life the other day at a high school rodeo held at the Lazy E Arena. A few days later, on March 31, a steer cut in front of his horse and flipped in the practice pen. Cade was kept sedated in the beginning due to the head trauma, and was on a ventilator to give his body some time to heal and rest.
I’ve since received regular updates from Steve Duhon and Ote Berry, who are forever friends of Cade’s dad and fellow bulldogger, Joe Walker. Since the start, doctors have remained positive about Cade’s brain activity. He’s now breathing on his own and no longer sedated, which is a huge step in a positive direction.
Cade has yet to regain complete consciousness, and when that will happen is now up to God and Cade, according to my cowboy reports. I will say I’ve never seen so many great big bulldoggers on their knees in tears and prayer. It’s going to be a heck of a party when Cade rises and shines. Doctors keep reminding Cade’s family that traumatic brain injuries are a marathon and not a sprint during this impossibly tough time.
If you’d like to help the Walker family, which also includes Cade’s mom, Shannon, and big brother, Cole, Google “Cade Walker’s Story.” That will take you to the right place.
Walker Huggins is the son of rodeo announcer West Huggins and his wife, Keri. He has a brother, Trevor, who’s also been on this brain-cancer journey with him. Walker, who by all accounts is a brilliant young rodeo sound man, just finished radiation for Medulloblastoma after having surgeries to remove two brain tumors.
The Walker family was dealt this devastating news on January 26, and has taken all treatments head-on as a family. The proton radiation treatment came with miserable side effects, including nausea and vision issues.
The best way to stay caught up with Walker’s journey and fund-raising efforts, which now also include T-shirt sales, is to follow the Facebook page: Walker Huggins #Now4Walker. I don’t know this rodeo family personally, but am pretty sure that the #Now4Walker hashtag comes from him being the kind of kid who helps everyone else. It’s our turn to repay the favor!
GO WALKER! GO CADE! GO CADEN! Your rodeo family loves you!!!