-- A Wisconsin sixth grader who missed his year-end field trip because he was in the hospital got an even bigger surprise from his classmates.
Nearly 40 of Phinehas Wiley’s classmates at First Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Cedarburg surprised the 11-year-old boy at Wisconsin Children’s Hospital, where he was being treated for Crohn’s disease.
“He was just blown away,” Phinehas’ mom, Aimee Wiley, told ABC News. “Even after, the whole rest of the night, he said like 100 times, ‘I can’t believe they all came. That was so nice of them. They didn’t have to all come.’”
Phinehas was diagnosed in December 2015 with Crohn’s disease, a chronic disease that causes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A Crohn’s flare-up that began last winter left Phinehas hospitalized and forced to undergo surgery. He has been out of school since mid-March and missed basketball and baseball games with friends.
“It gets discouraging for sure,” Wiley said. “He’s not able to move around much at all because he’s in pain.”
Phinehas underwent surgery on April 19 to remove part of his small intestine and his appendix, according to Wiley.
The surprise was organized by Phinehas’ math teacher, Eric Everts, and his wife, Jamie, who have a son in sixth grade with Phinehas.
“Just to see the look on his face, just lighting up, it was priceless,” said Everts, who described the sixth grade class as a “close-knit group.”
The pair also created a “Flat Stanley” version of Phinehas for his classmates to take along with them in Chicago. They posted Wiley's picture on a stick so the students could pose with him too.
“We took him with us to Willis Tower and Adler Planetarium,” Everts said. “It’s just one of those things that you would hope other people would do for your own kid if you were in the same boat.”
The visit and attention from his classmates helped energize Phinehas as he faced complications after his surgery and another hospitalization.
“Having his whole class go out of their way to make this trip and then stop to see him, it really meant a lot to him,” Wiley said.