A fourth-grader in Walpole, Mass., who is battling cancer for the second time is getting some high-tech help, thanks to a robot that allows him to attend class while he is still at home recovering.
Phillip Lippolis, 11, was diagnosed with leukemia and recently received a bone marrow transplant to try and fight it. The transplant left his immune system so weak, doctors told him he would not be allowed to physically go to school for at least a year.
“They told us and he cried all the way home,” his grandmother, Jean Allen said. “He just wants to be a kid and he can’t.”
His depression faded when Lippolis found out he was getting a robot that keeps him connected to school. The robot, which he and his classmates have named “Philbot,” can move up and down and even roam the hallways, all while Lippolis is on video and controlling it back at his home.
“There was never a time when we thought he wasn’t here,” Cheryl Ivatts, his teacher at Boyden Elementary said. “He’s always just been here, which is amazing.”
The robot was made possible by a Maine based non-profit called Grahamtastic and a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England.
“The actual total grant was $15,000 and it funded not only Philbot, but about 22 additional iPads and laptops for other children going through the same thing,” Executive Director Karen McEachern said.
Lippolis hopes to be back in class by early next year, but said the robot makes him feel like he never left.
“I though it was amazing I get to see everyone and be able to roam freely,” Lippolis said.