BRAINERD, Minn. — Looking at wide-eyed little Caleb Pence, you'd never guess he has suffered through so much.
The 7-year-old is the first to bring back a sticker from the doctor's office for each of his three siblings. He'll crack a joke to get a smile out of you.
But stare a little deeper into those wide eyes and you'll see the sclera has a blue tint. That's the first sign of osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.
Caleb has broken at least 11 bones that his parents know of, though they're guessing that number is much higher, the Brainerd Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1h0SdZR).
He's broken his leg, arm, pelvis and foot.
The rare disease sends the young boy to the doctor more than other kids his age.
Caleb knows just how scary a hospital can be. That's why when his parents asked him what he wanted to do for his seventh birthday, celebrated this past Valentine's Day, Caleb chose to create something that would help put kids at ease once at the doctor's office.
They're called "Caleb's Imagination Kits."
To an adult, it's a Ziploc baggie full of pipe cleaners, crayons, fabric squares, glue sticks, stickers and googly eyes.
"It looks like it came out of a junk drawer," joked Caleb's dad, Chris Pence.
"That and craft closets," added his mom, Megan Pence.
But to a child, it can be anything. The makings for a castle. A space station.
Caleb made a disco dance scene with his first kit.
Caleb saw the idea on his first visit to Gillette Children's Hospital about a year ago. Uneasy about the needles and strange people around him, the trinkets in the baggie gave Caleb something fun to concentrate on.
But the baggies ran out by Caleb's next visit.
For his birthday this past weekend, Caleb and his parents asked friends, family and church members to bring in whatever craft supplies they had. Together, they formed an assembly line. Caleb's post was at the end of the line, where he snapped each bag shut and offered a cheerful "thank you" to each person.
Caleb's first broken bone came when he was 16 months old. He was climbing a slide and broke his foot.
Doctors attributed it to Caleb being a kid, being "unlucky."