School of Communication welcomes special visitor from Toby’s Dream Foundation
February 21, 2023
Caleb Henegar finished reading his script off the teleprompter in the Moss Arts Center multimedia center. With Bill Roth by his side and several sports media and analytics students in the control room managing the operations, Henegar had one question.
“Don’t the Hokies only have eight losses in conference, not nine?” Henegar asked.
A quick fact check showed that the 15-year-old from Grafton High School in Yorktown, Virginia, was correct. And it signaled to everyone in the studio that they had a true Virginia Tech superfan on their hands.
Henegar arrived at the multimedia center earlier that morning for his dream trip with Toby’s Dream Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that ensures children with life-threatening illnesses, living in Hampton Roads and beyond, have the opportunity and resources to imagine and experience their most fantastic dreams.
When he was 4 years old, Henegar was diagnosed with primary ciliary dyskinesia, a rare genetic condition that leads to chronic lung, ear, and sinus infections. Since then, he has spent much of his childhood in and out of the hospital, causing him to miss out on birthday parties and other experiences growing up.
That hasn’t dampened Henegar’s spirits.
“He’s been through so much,” said his mother, Jessica Henegar. “There’s some moments where he’s like 'Why me?' but for the most part he’s such a happy kid.”
Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk nominated Henegar to Toby’s Dream Foundation, but COVID-19 halted the experience. It wasn’t until this past weekend that Henegar’s dream came to fruition.
Henegar’s love for Virginia Tech sports made a trip to Blacksburg the ideal dream.
“My dad [Eric Henegar '99] came here, so growing up, I was in the room when he watched the Hokies,” Henegar said. “I just kept it on. That’s where the love started. I want to go here eventually. I really want to go here.”
He wants to join the ranks as a sports media and analytics student in the School of Communication. He hopes to become a broadcaster or coach.
It’s part of the reason why Henegar’s dream was to meet Roth, the legendary Voice of the Hokies and professor of practice in the School of Communication, to get an inside look at the world of broadcasting. After touring the facilities, Henegar hopped behind the anchor desk, Roth mic'd him up, and sports media and analytics students recorded Henegar’s first take under the bright studio lights.
“I was nervous,” Henegar said. “I was really nervous, but it was fun and really cool.”
Those nerves weren’t on display as Henegar looked like a natural.
“Caleb jumped right on our set and delivered a terrific update on the Hokies’ basketball team,” Roth said. “He had a tremendous experience, and his visit was just as impactful to our sports media and analytics students. We are all big fans.”
Sports media and analytics sophomore Carter Hill, who met Henegar, shared a similar thought.
“Having Caleb here was so awesome,” Hill said. “It really puts into perspective how truly lucky we are to be in the position we’re in, and being around Caleb was so inspirational for all of us. I’m so glad he and his family could make it up to Blacksburg for the weekend to see what we have going here at Tech, and I’m even more glad he got to experience what it truly means to be a Hokie.”
Henegar beamed with joy while talking about some of his favorite Virginia Tech players, noting Keve Aluma and Justin Robinson atop the list. He can tell you where he was when the men's basketball team won the ACC Championship in 2022.
It was only fitting that his dream was capped off with a visit with the team. Henegar broke down the final huddle in Friday’s practice, received a signed basketball from the team, and watched the Hokies beat Virginia from Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend,” Jessica Henegar said.
As she stood off to the side in the multimedia center and watched from a distance as her son interacted with Roth and the students, she offered a sentiment that many in the room shared that day.
“I really want to cry,” Jessica Henegar said. “I didn’t know until yesterday that we were going to be able to come. The fact that we’re here, seeing him smile, and watching him do all of this is just amazing.”
Written by Cory Van Dyke