After receiving a new heart, Elijah felt blessed. So, he wished to give back to other children still waiting for organ transplants.
A girl lies in her hospital bed, pacifier clenched in her mouth and eyes pointed straight forward. If anyone understands what she’s going through, it’s Elijah. He was born with a congenital heart defect. He endured numerous open-heart surgeries until his heart failed in 2013. He knows her fear, her bewilderment, her desperation.
Elijah also knows what can make her life just a little bit better.
He offers her an artfully wrapped present. Suddenly, things are looking up. There’s a reason to smile.
Solitude to Solidarity
Inside Elijah’s chest beats someone else’s heart. It’s a gift he waited for during his early teens. He needed it to have any hope of living. When a donor heart provided his second chance at life, his medical team provided the gift of their training and expertise. His recovery lasted eight months: thirty-two weeks away from school, more than 220 days stuck in a hospital room.
As he recovered, it seemed like every person in Elijah’s life offered their time and well wishes over video message … classmates, teachers, staff members, everyone. He could watch them any time he felt down. The overwhelmingly kind “get well, Elijah” and “come back to us soon” messages transformed his solitude into solidarity.
Elijah knows the support from his friends and family made all the difference in his recovery. So when Elijah recognized a chance to pass love and care along to others, he grabbed hold of it.
You Won’t Be Alone
Elijah’s opportunity came in the form of a Make-A-Wish experience. He admits he considered some outrageous options, like skydiving.
But he thought back to everyone who supported him during the days when his life was on the line. He realized what wish would truly mean the most to him.
He wished to give gifts to all the children at his hospital.
“I wanted to let them know that they won’t be alone,” Elijah said.
Elijah will tell you that there’s absolutely no wrong or right Make-A-Wish experience. He completely stands by other kids who wish to do something for themselves or for their family. He believes his wish did do something for him, even if his wish helped others.
This just happened to be what was most meaningful to him … and it’s all because of the care he received from his family, his friends and his community.
A Great Gift to the World
Elijah wished to give presents to kids at Lurie Children's hospital, where he spent time waiting for his heart. Elijah started his wish by going room to room, asking kids what gift would make them feel better. He wanted to make sure that each child received just the right present to lift their spirits during this tough time in their life.
Elijah’s wish came true on National Believe Day 2015, and people in his community gathered at Macy’s to collect gifts for the children at his hospital. Firefighters joined him, carrying the gifts Elijah chose and loading them into a waiting limousine. Elijah hand-delivered the gifts to each of the kids at the hospital.
“What a great gift to the world Elijah is,” said Lisa, whose son received a present from Elijah. “There’s hope. A lot of feeling went into what he did today. And it just feels good. It makes me feel good for him.”
This year, Macy's will celebrate $100 million in total giving to Make-A-Wish since 2003. Celebrate with them by making this the best year ever – just send your letter to Santa as part of the Believe campaign
and grant wishes like Elijah's with Macy’s!