"I feel really happy, and I feel like it’s my birthday.”
Elijah Garcia was born with arthogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition that affects his muscles and joints. The 13-year-old from Boynton Beach, Florida, has undergone a total of 13 surgeries and cannot stand, walk, or bend his arms to his face.
Hoping to improve his quality of life, Elijah’s grandmother, Natalie Quintero, recently took him to see a specialist who informed the family that there is a course of treatment that could change his life. Unfortunately, it involves four separate surgeries and a price tag of $750,000.
Elijah’s family, who were already trying to come up with the money to replace his broken wheelchair, found themselves in a difficult financial situation.
That’s when one of Elijah’s teachers at SouthTech Preparatory Academy, Amanda Caffrey, decided to start a fundraiser.
"He has a personality that cannot be matched by anyone,” Caffrey told WPBF 25 News. “So, we kind of wanted to do whatever we could to help his family, especially during the holiday season.”
Together, the school system and the community raised a total of $4,805, covering the cost of a new wheelchair and an electric car lift. Caffrey put the remaining $700 in a medical trust fund for the surgeries Elijah needs to be able to stand independently and bend his arms up towards his face.
This week he was presented with his new set of wheels complete with a custom license plate.
"I feel really happy, and I feel like it’s my birthday," Elijah told WPBF.
"It’s definitely life-changing for the fact that Elijah has his own freedom, you know, he’ll be able to go on the grass with his friends, have his own independence around the neighborhood with visiting people, and just being himself," Elijah's mother, Angel Santos, told the local news outlet. "We have trips planned, I want to take him places. And we can’t always do that if we don’t have proper equipment for him. So now, we’re able to go onto the boardwalks like we always love to... nature walks are our thing; we like to be outside."
If you'd like to help Elijah, you can donate through Cash App at $wheelsforEG.
You can also send donations to the Elijah Garcia Special Needs Trust. C/0 Natalie Quintero, Trustee, PO Box 6932, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
For more Southern Living news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on Southern Living.