Valley rallies behind 7 year-old James Haefele

Back to school season is a little different for seven-year-old James Haefele this year. While he was able to start second grade last week, his school days will be cut short sometimes so he can get to the hospital for radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Earlier this summer, James felt a little sore after he kicked the bag at karate class. Then, he started limping and a visit to the doctor for an X-Ray would reveal a mass on his right shin bone, or tibia. He had cancer.

He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma or RMS in the beginning of July and has since started his 42 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. His father, Jim Haefele of Shelton, said his son has been handling it like a champ, as evidenced by the fact that James prepared to battle his cancer by shaving his head to have a mohawk and dying it red.

James’s mom lives in Oxford, where James is also a student. He divides his time between his home in Shelton and Oxford.

The family has spent a lot of time at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and Jim Haefele said they were touched by the level of care and support at the hospital.

“It was such an eye opener to me the way they treat the kids and distract them,” Haefele said. “They really know how to deal with children.”

Children may play Wii and Xbox or ride to surgery on a Big Wheels, Haefele said — it makes a tough battle easier. So when friends and neighbors asked how they could show their support, James’s family asked that they raise money for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

While James is trying to kick cancer, his friends at Bushi Ban Martial Arts Studio at 842 Derby Avenue in Seymour will be doing the same thing by holding a kick-athon Sept. 8. Donors may give $5 to $100. Each dollar equals one kick. For $3 each, donors may have a participant break a board. The fund-raiser is from 1 to 4 and all proceeds will go to the medical center. If you have questions or want to get involved, call 203-732-8900.

A nine-hole golf scramble on Oct. 21 at Woodhaven Country Club in Bethany will also raise money for the medical center, in honor of James. Participants must register by Oct. 14. For a registration form, find the event on Facebook by searching “9-hole Scramble for CCMC in honor of James T Haefele.” Or contact Megan at

While the family is optimistic, upbeat and keeping James’s life as normal as they can, they hope that as many people as possible will join their fund-raising efforts for the medical center.

“The people of CCMC and their approach is what makes all the difference in the worlds to kids like him and the family going through something like this,” Haefele said.