Cleat Winkler

Cleat Winkler is a 22-year-old Senior at IUPUI. As a student in the radiation therapy program, Cleat hopes to soon be helping treat FELLOW CANCER PATIENTS. It was March of 2008 just a week after turning 14 that Cleat started experiencing nausea and dizziness. After a few days of "toughing it out," it was off to the doctor's office. The initial diagnosis was an inner ear infection. A few days later, he was to be confirmed at church, but he never made it. Instead, he was on his way to a new diagnosis, a "new normal," and a Riley journey that is yet to be completed. Because he wrestled, his family doctor ordered a CAT scan to check for a brain bleed; instead, a tumor was found, and he was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. Given the option of going to St. Jude's or Riley, his family chose Riley without hesitation. They soon found out that surgery was not the end of Cleat's treatment - six weeks of radiation including craniospinal and Proton Beam and lots of chemo over a span of about 15 months. Over the years, his family has spent hours with so many of the wonderful people at Riley. Now instead of being overwhelmed, a trip to Riley is a chance for them to see some good friends. The side effects of cancer treatments are severe and never ending, depleting the patient both physically and mentally. Cleat fought hard to combat those side effects, earning eight varsity letters in high school and graduating 5th in his class. It seemed like a miracle that he could return to the wrestling mat and football field, but that is what Riley Hospital can do, provide an opportunity for a miracle!