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HERO UP For Eli!

Today I want to share a story with you about a little boy named Eli who has been with us since the first year we opened.

This little boy makes us laugh every single day with humor that is far, far beyond his age. Eli can tell you just about anything about any dinosaur that may have existed, and has a vocabulary that is very impressive for a 5 year old. If you had 5 minutes to talk to him about the Bermuda Triangle or Jurassic Park you may just end up there for 30. Not only does he love to talk, but he is an entertainer through and through. Recently he has loved to perform magic tricks for us...

Any time he walks by a staff person, his signature move is usually to point his fingers, wink and click his tongue at us like the suave little man that he is.

His personality is so lively, so fun, and he always loves to share about his religion. Owner and Co-Director, Parvanah Withee, remembers how every time he encounters a peer who is having a rough day he will say, "They just need to let Jesus into their heart and everything will be okay."

Miss Sarah recalls a time when Eli approached her and asked, "Where is a good place to talk to God, I really need to right now." She recommended a quiet area in the classroom with a bean bag. So he walked right over to the bean bag, sat himself down and had his own conversation with god and then went back to his activity. He never ever fails to surprise us.

All of us know, that no matter what type of day we have had, Elias will make us smile. Sometimes he talks so much we have to remind him it's the teachers turn, and sometimes he starts slinging webs like Spiderman when he's supposed to be doing an art activity, and he is also the child that checks in on his friends when they're upset, and who yells out "WHO MADE THIS?" when he eats a meal he loves and makes sure to thank the staff person for making it. His energy and enthusiasm bubble over into everything he does. He is so eager to learn about anything and everything, and it has been such a pleasure having him at our center.

That's why, when his health started to decline we noticed. The little boy who was once lively and energetic began to look frail, his skin color changed, and he was exhausted all the time. Our Eli was fading and we weren't sure what was going on. When his mother Danielle brought her own concerns to us and that she was going to bring him to a doctor, we agreed that something was going on with this little boy.

The day of his doctors appointment we impatiently awaited an update from his mother, and she informed us that he would be rushed to Portland and that cancer was suspected. Our hearts sank, and we instantly felt helpless. What could we do to help this family? How could we support them? Later that day she messaged and confirmed that Elias had been diagnosed with Leukemia. We certainly felt lost, incredibly sad, and couldn't stop thinking about him, his family, and how hard this must be for them. No one wakes up one morning and expects to get this sort of news. No one thinks that it could be them, someone close to them, and especially not their own child.

This is a family who has always shown us support since they started with us. Any price increase, any snow day, any policy change, they willingly agree and even make a point to thank us for serving their family. It is clear where their Eli gets his manners and thoughtfulness. They are incredibly hardworking people who are having to take pause in their work to spend time with their son and focus on his health and his treatment, as well as focus on Eli's younger brother.

Right now, Eli is currently hospitalized in Portland which his family has to travel back and forth to. The difficult situation with COVID and the stringent guidelines enforced to keep people safe allow that only one parent can be down and with Eli at a time, so Mom and Dad switch back and forth between working and being home with their younger son and being with Eli in the hospital. Mom reports that Eli misses home but he is in good spirits and shared some current photos with us of his spunky self.

We won't be seeing Eli for a long time between his hospitalization, health care providers recommendations and his projected start of Kindergarten in the fall, and we miss him so dearly. The center truly isn't the same without him. For now though, we will keep doing everything we can do provide support for him and his family.

So what can you do to help us?

We came up with a few ways to help their family in this unexpected time of need.

1. We created a gofundme for their family called HERO UP For Eli.

2. We also created campaign t-shirts with Eli's favorite web slinging superhero on them. Proceeds will also be donated to Eli and his family.

3. We are putting together a calendar raffle for Eli for the month of September. We will be gathering donations and prizes for this raffle so that we can help raise funds and reward those with amazing prizes to thank them for their help!

So far we have anything from gift cards, to photo shoots with local photographers, to a large custom made fire pit valued at $395!!

If you are interested in making a donation to the calendar as a business or personally please contact us via email at, or phone 207-368-3277 and we will get back to you as soon as you can.

Let's rally together as a community and HERO UP For Eli!

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