Donations buy wheelchair and van for Knoxville boy

Donations buy wheelchair and van for Knoxville boy

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Elijah James, 3, will finally get his own power wheelchair and so much more, thanks to donations from people all over the world. Elijah James, 3, will finally get his own power wheelchair and so much more, thanks to donations from people all over the world.
By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter
 
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Elijah James, 3, will finally get his own power wheelchair and so much more, thanks to donations from people all over the world.

Previous story: Fund to buy wheelchair for Knoxville boy halfway to goal

We first introduced you to little Eli last week. He was diagnosed with the most severe form of spina bifida and is unable to walk or crawl,  but TennCare wouldn't pay for him to have his own power wheelchair. So local couple Brent and Jaime Hemsley, strangers before this, started an online campaign to raise the $33,000 needed.

"It's just the power of the internet," the Hemsleys said. "We had people donating in London, in Switzerland."
 
As of Friday, Eli's gofundme site had raised more than $58,000, thanks in large part to an anonymous donor who watched our original story. At that time the campaign had only raised $11,000, so the donor's family wrote a $22,000 check to put the wheelchair into production immediately.

"It's something so overwhelming that I can do something to make this child's life better. It wasn't so much an act of generosity as just the right thing to do," the donor told 6 News.

The extra money raised will buy Eli's family a wheelchair accessible van.

"There aren't even words to adequately describe our emotions. This will allow us to give Eli the ability to have freedom, independence and a greater understanding of his world around him," said Dawn James, Eli's mother.
 
The Country Tonite theatre in Pigeon Forge is hosting a fundraiser for Eli on June 21. $5 from each ticket sold will go to him. Eli will be there before the show to greet his fans and show off his wheelchair.
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