Meet Kid Captain Bentley Erickson
The family of Bentley Erickson takes pride in his strength and determination, tested after years in and out of the hospital and nearly two dozen surgeries.
Bentley was transferred to University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital just days after he was born early at 31 weeks. Diagnosed with several rare and serious disorders, his parents emphasize that none of his conditions define the Minnesota boy.
“We were told before he was born that he had a hole in his heart, a mass in his lung, and some heart defects that may need heart surgery,” his mother, Kris, recalls. “After he was born, everything we found was much different.”
'Beyond all expectations’
Now 12, Bentley is in sixth grade, loves riding on the pontoon boat and playing Xbox with two controllers at the same time.
His mother says he’s obsessed with traffic lights so much so that during the pandemic, they emailed the Minnesota Department of Transportation “to thank them for traffic lights” and were invited to the traffic light warehouse in Minnesota to learn how they work. They now have a 7 1/2-foot-tall traffic light in their basement.
“Wherever he goes, he just lights up the world,” Kris says. “He loves Hawkeye football. He lives for Hawkeye football and has this incredible talent for predicting who is going to win.” Bentley often wears a George Kittle shirt and his prized possession is a video message the former Hawkeye football player-turned-NFL star sent Bentley on his birthday.
The family stays in contact with Bentley’s care team in Iowa, remembering the care they provided at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“I can’t tell you how many times we have cried, we have prayed, we have begged just for him to survive,” she continues. “Everyone went way above and beyond all expectations. They all held our hands. They all prayed with us. They all did everything they possibly could for him to survive. They performed miracles. It’s not just care in those walls. There are true miracles happening there.”