Maxey fifth-grader becomes pop star for a day

2012-04-25T15:00:00Z 2013-07-30T22:27:18Z Maxey fifth-grader becomes pop star for a dayBy MARGARET REIST / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Move over, Justin Bieber. Make room, Beatlemania. Cayden Hubbard has arrived.

Cayden's trajectory from Maxey Elementary School fifth-grader to sought-after pop star happened Wednesday morning, shortly after the bell rang and everyone finished saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cayden, who started his day with a toaster waffle and a ride to school from his mom, found himself in the office surrounded by paparazzi and handlers, agents and reporters -- and smiling family.

"You're going to be a pop star -- are you pumped?" asked one of the many adults in the Maxey office.

"Yeah," answered the shell-shocked young man who has spent a good share of his 11 years battling a tumor where his spinal cord meets his brain.

Make-A-Wish -- celebrating World Wish Day in honor of 32 years of granting wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses -- was behind his instant stardom. 

His wish granters told Cayden he'd be leaving school in a limo, making a number of appearances at television and radio stations in Lincoln and Omaha, then boarding a plane to sunny Los Angeles for a makeover, photo shoot -- and recording in a studio.

A lot to absorb for someone who thought his day was going to consist of writing and math and maybe a little science.

But it started to sink in before he'd left the office.

"The best part? No school."

Minutes later, Cayden -- donning a Make-A-Wish T-shirt and a Bieber-esque hat -- walked into the hallway, flanked by security guards (four intimidating Husker players wearing black sunglasses and dress shirts) and made his way through the screaming crowd.

His fellow fifth-graders, who turned a normally quiet hallway into a fan-crazed red carpet walk, shouted "Cayden! Cayden!" and held out pieces of paper for autographs.

"I think I'm going to cry," shrieked one crazed fan.

With help from his security guards -- who in Memorial Stadium go by the names Eric Martin, Ben Cotton, Ryan Klachko and Brent Qvale -- Cayden made it into the black stretch limo and drove off, motorcycle escorts in tow.

His grandparents and an aunt stayed behind, talking to straggling reporters who'd been unable to get a moment with the star.

Doctors found the tumor when Cayden was in kindergarten, they said. He had two major surgeries, and about a year ago, doctors learned the tumor was malignant. He's almost done with chemotherapy now, and his family is hopeful that will be the end of it.

Cayden -- when not signing autographs and waving at fans -- is stoic, said Ken Hubbard, his grandpa.

He's easy-going, played the clarinet last semester and has tried his hand at guitar. He loves the Back Street Boys and Maroon 5, but his favorite band is the Beatles, said grandmas Susan Hubbard and Marie Vodvarka.

His favorite tune: "Here Comes the Sun."

And it came in spades Wednesday morning, to a young man riding the wave of stardom -- all the way to LA.

​Reach Margaret Reist at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com

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