Chesterton Tribune



Kalvin Ravn is Exchange Club ACE Award winner for 2013

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The 12th annual ACE Award, Accepting the Challenge of Excellence, was recently presented to Chesterton High School senior Kalvin Ravn.

The award is given each year to a CHS student who has faced a challenging and difficult time in their life and has persevered and will graduate from high school. The Duneland Exchange Club gives this award to recognize students for high achievement in the face of adversity.

Kalvin was born on May 27, 1995 and has lived in Chesterton his whole life. His parents are Jerry Skrupa and Shawn Ravn. He has one brother, Christopher, 7 years-old.

Kalvin was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, AMC. AMC is a non-progressive disease characterized by curved, hooked or frozen joints. The cause of AMC is unknown and there is no treatment to reverse the condition. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and surgery are options and treatment plans are individualized.

Because of the AMC, Kalvin's hands were turned in, he had no hip joint, his femur bone was four inches too long and he had two clubfeet. His treatment has been physical therapy and multiple surgeries. To date, he has had 17 surgeries. Most of his surgeries took place before he was five years-old and his most recent surgery was on January 8, 2013.

One of Kalvin’s surgeries involved creating a new hip joint by carving out of the femur bone. His hands were curved inward and as he aged his hands became weaker and he was unable to hold things, requiring more surgery. Also, four fingers in his right hand had no cartilage and had to be fused. He can use his right hand, but he is unable to bend his fingers.

But by far the most traumatic and life-changing surgery was to fix his left club foot when he was eight years-old. The surgery was successful, but an accidental cut tore an artery, which was tied up and then sutured. As a result, his foot turned completely black and basically died. He says it is the most intense pain he has ever experienced. Amputation followed and Kalvin immediately started seeing a child counselor to help him cope.

It would be six months before Kalvin could be fitted with a prosthetic leg. Kalvin started walking immediately with the new leg, which amazed the doctor, who had never seen anyone learn to walk so quickly on an artificial leg.

Unfortunately, his prosthetic leg never fit well and caused sores. One day it was discovered he had a staph infection.

Fortunately, the staph infection was contained to the area of the leg. Kalvin endured these staph sores for a year until he was referred to a specialist. The specialist knew immediately that Kalvin's amputation was botched and he not only needed to have more of his leg amputated, but he required the Ertl revision, which created a bridge between his tibia and fibula bones. This procedure would give Kalvin the bone support he needed to walk on an artificial leg.

Kalvin was ready to fix the problem only to discover the surgery would be delayed for eight months because of insurance problems.

On January 8 of this year he had the surgery. And, for his spring break he started the process to get a new prosthetic leg. He’s very excited because he will be able to walk again and he’s getting a waterproof prosthetic, allowing him to take showers, swim and go to the beach.

Kalvin said he’s been extremely fortunate because he has always had friends. One thing he has always struggled with is walking and walking any distance. He is confident that with the surgery and a new leg that fits he will be able to walk, something many of us take for granted. He can’t wait to walk around the city of Chicago and to the gas station to buy something. He also can’t wait to stand in the shower for the first time or to get into a pool without assistance.

Kalvin has experienced a lot of ups and downs and attributes his positive attitude to his supportive parents, having a child counselor after his amputation and having the ability to do self-coaching during rough times.

He has never turned to drugs or alcohol. He explains that after his first amputation in third grade he was given Dilaudid, because the pain was so severe. Dilaudid is a higher form of Morphine and he became addicted. He realized he was addicted and knew this was not good. He immediately quit the pain medicine, and unfortunately had to experience the withdrawal that comes with drug addiction. He said he has no desire for recreational drugs or alcohol, because of how dangerous they are.

Kalvin's mom Shawn has said the hardest part for her was when Kalvin's foot surgery went terribly wrong. She remembers looking at his foot and seeing it slowly die, along with the heartache of hearing him scream at the top of his lungs for six straight days because of the pain, with nothing she could do to help. She has struggled with knowing the amputation would forever change Kalvin's life. She said this journey has had a lot of ups and downs, but feels the good moments erase the bad and she tries to focus on the good.

She said her son is a strong-willed person with unbelievable determination. He believes his role in life is to help make life better for others. He is always looking for ways to help other people and volunteers every opportunity he gets.

She said right after his amputation his counselor was with him and Kalvin didn't want to talk about his own situation, but about his concern for his mom because she was not eating.

Despite everything Kalvin’s faced he has had a successful high school career. He took the International Baccalaureate classes, is a member of the Super High Mileage Club and a member of the Creative Writing Club.

After graduation he plans on attending Butler University, to major in pharmacy and minor in philosophy. He has chosen pharmacy to make a good living, but the money is not for him, because his goal is to live within 30% of his salary and donate the rest of the money to charity, specifically to fight cancer.

After college he wants to move back to Chesterton and either pursue retail pharmacy or pharmaceutical research on cancer.

One of Kalvin’s favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world!”

Kalvin not only won the Duneland Exchange Club ACE Award, but he also won the Northern Indiana District ACE Award and is now in competition for the National Exchange Club ACE Award.



Posted 5/9/2013