DAVIE (CBSMiami) – A South Florida boy, battling cancer in Philadelphia, has found a way to attend school with his friends in South Florida thanks to his classmates and a little technology.
Kyle Weintraub, 12, was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and is being treated at a hospital in Pennsylvania.
“If it seems easy, it’s not, it’s not pleasant. The treatments aren’t pleasant,” said Weintraub.
But while physically in the Philadelphia area, the 12-year-old is also physically in class every day at the David Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, thanks to the VGo telepresence robot he controls remotely from Philly.
Weintraub said he didn’t think the robot was real at first, but now says “yeah, it is real. It’s different, but it’s like I’m there.”
The robot stands about four feet tall and at the top has a video screen showing Weintraub’s face.
“He controls it all from his computer in Philadelphia and he has full remote access and it responds instantaneously as he is driving in full control and he can tilt it up and down,” said his school’s IT Director Jeff Shapiro.
The robot allows Weintraub to signal the teacher for help or to ask a question by flashing bright lights. He’s seemingly equipped with everything he needs for class, including a sense of humor for the occasional frustrations.
“Yeah, one kid specifically I won’t say his name, but he keeps putting his hand in my camera and it gets annoying. You know who you are,” Weintraub said with a big smile on his face.
His classmates describe him as a regular student with perks.
“Well he looks cooler,” said Brian Brandwein, one of Weintraub’s classmates. “When I found out he was getting the robot we thought it was really cool.”
The robot and its software cost about $10,000, but his classmates helped foot the bill by fundraising.
“It’s our mitzvah project,” said 11-year-old Marni Rosenblatt. “It’s when you wanna do something good for somebody.”
Rosenblatt said she always thought the robot for her classmate was a good idea, but was even more excited after actually seeing it in the classroom.
“I was surprised because it was ten times better than I expected!”