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Young UNC Hospitals patient competes in school contest via Skype

Posted December 5, 2014

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— An 11-year-old Onslow County boy didn't let a hospital stay deter him from competing in his school's geography bee.

Drew Gradus has been in the North Carolina Children's Hospital for more than a week, receiving a round of antibiotics to help him deal with his cystic fibrosis.

"Drew, he's had a rough year here," said his father, Paul Gradus.

Before going to the hospital, part of UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, Drew was getting ready for the geography bee at Swansboro Middle School. Going to the hospital didn't get in the way, however.

He continued to watch the History Channel and studied at a school inside the hospital. When it was time to compete, he took part via Skype.

This sixth-grader held his own against students in the seventh and eighth grades until a question about the capital of Michigan stumped him.

Drew said he was disappointed, but he plans to continue studying and enter next year's contest.

He also is keeping a candy business going, selling sweets to other hospital patients for 20 cents a piece.

"Every time I come up here, I sell candy," he said. "This year, I made over $100. That's the most I've ever made."

He turned the profits over to his mother so she could buy some books, DVDs and video games for the other young patients at the hospital.

"They give so much to me, and I feel like I need to give back to them," he said.

Gradus said his son is responding well to the treatments, and doctors could release him as early as Saturday. Then, he'll continue treatment at home for a year.


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