Lyndon Baty and the Robot That Saved Him

In tiny Knox City, a sick boy and his robot sidekick keep beating the odds.

"I'll trade you that laptop for my uke," the wagon clown says as she thrusts her tiny instrument at him.

"That's like Deal or No Deal," Lyndon says. "No deal!"

"Is that your agent?"

Dylan Hollingsworth
Lyndon likes to position his robot at the front of the class so he has a good view.
Dylan Hollingsworth
Lyndon likes to position his robot at the front of the class so he has a good view.

"No, that's my reporter."

"You get your own reporter!" says marching clown. "Are you gonna be on TV?"

"I've already been TV. This is for the newspaper — the Dallas Observer."

"Oh, so you're getting observed?"

Lyndon and his parents have made a point to share his story as much as they can — on CNN, NBC, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, German and Japanese film crews, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail and Geekologie. They want any kid in Lyndon's position to know that there are options.

VGo now has robots in nearly 30 schools across the country. And they're still expanding. There's Devon Carrow, the 7-year-old in West Seneca, New York, with deadly allergies. There's Miranda Garcia, the third grader in San Antonio with a lupus-weakened immune system. And Aidan Bailey, the Iowa elementary schooler who had a double lung transplant.

Lyndon, meanwhile, is back for another stay at Children's. Last month, Louis and Sheri noticed that his dialysis fluid was murky. He had an infection in his catheter, and it needed to be removed. That meant surgery to take it out, a couple weeks in the hospital for the infection to clear up and surgery to install another. He'd be in the hospital during state testing, so he'd have to make that up in the summer. But there was a bigger conflict, one that meant they couldn't — wouldn't — leave Knox City on April 12, when he was supposed to drive to Dallas: prom.

Lyndon had a date with Andrea, who by Sheri's reckoning was the most sought-after girl in school. He may have asked her out by text, but he swears it was his only option to get it done quickly. "I can get a girl when it matters," he says.

They decided Lyndon would stay at prom as long as he felt well enough to stay. "We just told him, 'You tell us when you have to go,'" Sheri says. "We wanted him to have the experience and say he went to prom."

Lyndon wanted to drive Andrea and him — no robots allowed — but his belly was too sore to even properly put on a seatbelt. So Andrea's sister, a senior also heading to prom that night, drove them. The dance had a Hollywood theme, and all the couples walked down a red carpet into the new Knox City community center while a teacher announced their names. Then everyone sat down to dinner. There was shrimp cocktail — "I would die for shrimp," Lyndon says — and steak and cheesecake. Sheri was the photographer, and the one thing Lyndon was positive he did not want to miss was getting a picture of him and his date.

Around 90 minutes in, the dancing started, but Lyndon felt too bad to dance. They did their best to draw it out before he told Andrea goodbye and climbed in the passenger side of his dad's truck and they headed for the highway. It's a familiar drive but a long one, three and a half hours without traffic, but it feels a little shorter when you're thinking about next year's senior prom.

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11 comments
MisterMean
MisterMean

I seem to recall a similar concept in the Dallas Morning News comic page Baldo where one student (due to immunological illness) went to school via robot.

aparis1
aparis1

@MisterMean Yes, Baldo did do a number of comic strips featuring a Rayna the robot that looks strikingly like VGo :)

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

@MisterMean  That's odd.  I seem to recall a Bob Marley and the Wailers song all about "we gonna chase those crazy baldheads outta the town".  I always seemed to think that had something to do with the skinheads prevalent in Deep Ellum in the 1980s, and if I'm not wrong, nary a peep from the conservatrons at DMN.  The somewhat admirable individual (and Liberal) entrepreneurs, with some help from myself and my friends, are the ones responsible for getting the police involved in getting those early incarnations of the Tea Party out of one of the few organic and independently operated entertainment districts the city of Dallas ever had.  Crazy baldheads is exactly what I'd call those misbegotten extremists, and many Dallas cops would agree with us.  I have a bunch of stories to tell about being blond and blue-eyed and getting the Nazi salute from those idiot-heads. 

Baldo?  Right about robotic.  Mechanized.  Wehrmacht. The notion that Nazis were Liberals is simply another "fictional reality" from the mind of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the woman who wore black leather jackets but never went to South Central Los Angeles with it. 

MisterMean
MisterMean

@gordonhilgers Let me see if I can reiterate (re state) my original comment:

1) the article talks about the use of robotics (a robot) for Lyndon Baty to be able to attend his school.   Also about the history of why he can not attend school in person due to his health.

2) I mentioned the comic pages in the Dallas Morning News-they appear in the Arts & Life section.   There are 2 and 1/2 pages.   B.C., Blondie, Crankshaft, Curtis, Dilbert etc.  They appear every day.

3) on the 1/2 page of comics is a comic written by Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos.   The main character is a teenage male named Baldo.  He lives with his father, his Tia (aunt) and his little sister.   The NAME OF THE STRIP IS BALDO!   Baldo is Hispanic.  He has a friend who he hangs out with who, a few weeks ago, dated a girl who, much like Lyndon Baty, could not attend school due to health reasons.  She too was able to attend school by a robot.  There were several days worth of comic strips dealing with how the young lady and Baldo's friend "dated".  

4)  In my comment it was my intention to draw the parallels between this comic strip and real life of Lyndon Baty.

It must have gone over your head.  I do not know where you came up with your response.  It is really off the wall!

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers like.author.displayName 1 Like

First the Star Trek communicators.  Now the robots.  And they said us hippies were "just kiddin'".  Apparently, dreams can come true for some people, and my empathy and hope goes out to Lyndon.  As a survivor of a life-threatening illness, I know how it feels to stare death in the face.  Nobody to blame, really, but perhaps Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  But I'm not fighting them.  No way in hell.  I do blame the Soviets.  Lyndon's a good name for a Texan.  Big shoes to fill. 

Good luck, Lyndon.  You have a good day. 

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers like.author.displayName 1 Like

Of course, we could mention li'l Ricky Perry's big giveaway to his buddy, Harold Simmons, who wants to put a nuclear waste dump in West Texas.  The whole state of Nevada turns-out to stop the Nukie-poo-poo, but li'l Ricky never gave a crap about U-238, because, after all, when we protested with CPLF in 1980, we were all Commies. 

Li'l Ricky:  Sit on that and rotate. 

dfwenigma
dfwenigma

I see huge application to all sorts of things for this robot. I hope they're collecting data from it that they can use to improve the robots and make them even more anthromorphic. The robots need to be able to go where kids would go in a natural way. It's nice to know my iRobot has a cousin and that it had the same parents as this robot. We'll look back on this as the beginning of something great.

wilme2
wilme2

Good story.  Forwarding via e-mail and posting it to Facebook...

jwmplano
jwmplano

Great writing and very inspiring especially when most of what you see in the media are the examples of bad behavior and people's inhumanity. What an attitude Lyndon has. Now if he could only bottle it, many of us could use some now and then.

Robby746
Robby746

Need more stories of this sort.  Very good.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan like.author.displayName 1 Like

This was really, really good. Nice work, Luke. 

 
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