Fund to buy wheelchair for Knoxville boy halfway to goal

Fund to buy wheelchair for Knoxville boy halfway to goal

Posted:
Elijah James was never supposed to take his first breath. He has the most severe form of spina bifida. No one with his condition has ever survived. Elijah James was never supposed to take his first breath. He has the most severe form of spina bifida. No one with his condition has ever survived.
The joy on his face is clear when Eli uses what he calls his Superman chair. It's one of the few things in his life he can control. (source: family) The joy on his face is clear when Eli uses what he calls his Superman chair. It's one of the few things in his life he can control. (source: family)
By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The fund-raising effort to buy a little Knoxville boy his own power wheelchair is almost halfway there.

The community has come together to help three-year-old Elijah James get the power wheelchair he needs. This after TennCare decided the $50,000 chair wasn't medically necessary.

Jamie and Brent Hemsley, a local couple with a special needs child of their own, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the new chair when they heard about Eli. They also contacted the wheelchair company to work out a price cut down to $33,000. 

Since that campaign began, $18,000 have been donated to the fund. 

More online: Donate to Elijah James' wheelchair fund

Elijah was never supposed to take his first breath. He has the most severe form of spina bifida. No one with his condition has ever survived.

The joy on his face is clear when Eli uses what he calls his Superman chair. It's one of the few things in his life he can control.

"Just the overall concept that there's more to this world than what's right here in front of me. I can search for things, I can find things. As a mom, you want nothing more than that for your child, to have some semblance of independence," said Dawn James.

But the power wheelchair Eli has learned to use belongs to Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center. Eli's mother Dawn would love for her son to have his own at home.

"This chair has the ability to have the molding so it fits him exactly. There wouldn't be any pressure sores or skin breakdown issues," Dawn said.
 
That's one of the problems with Eli's current chair. When a local couple with a special needs child of their own heard about Eli, they immediately wanted to help.

"It's like, we can't heal him, but this is something we can fix," said Jaime Hemsley. "I can't wait until the day he gets it and I can see him operate it. I know it will happen."

The outpouring of support means the world to Eli's family.

"It's kind of spurred a local movement. It's been really beautiful to see," Dawn said.

Dawn knows, with the new wheelchair, her little boy will keep defying the odds.
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