By Sooji Nam
BOYNTON BEACH, Florida (WPBF) — It was a memorable day for Elijah Garcia.
“I feel really happy, and I feel like it’s my birthday,” Garcia said as he looked at his brand-new wheelchair.
“You have your own license plate! I love it; that is adorable,” his loved ones cheered on.
His friends and family at South Tech Preparatory Academy raised funds to purchase a wheelchair and presented it to him on Tuesday.
The 13-year-old was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition that affects the joints.
Garcia’s family was looking to replace his old wheelchair to help him get to school easier and do the things he enjoys.
That’s when his teacher, Amanda Caffrey, stepped in with a fundraiser.
WPBF 25 News shared the story of Garcia and his loved ones last month in hopes of getting the word out to the community to help.
“Donations were just really coming in, Cash App, I think we got just under $2,000, and then our high school, their academies also donated,” Caffrey, who is an Exceptional Student Education coordinator at South Tech Prep, told WPBF 25 News.
“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,” Angel Santos, Elijah’s mother, said. “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.”
Garcia was also excited about the personalized water bottle that his school gifted him.
“We love you, and we couldn’t imagine doing this for anybody else,” Caffrey said.
“His attitude about things and the way he approaches life is just so amazing that people are able to see that and contribute to that is beyond words,” Santos said.
She said they found a specialist for her son and hope to raise funds to support his life-changing surgeries.
“You guys just don’t even understand how much it changed our lives. It’s so amazing; we definitely appreciate it; we have ‘thank you’ cards going out. Anybody that is sending money through Cash App, if they can please provide their email address or an address somewhere we can personally thank people, that would be great,” Santos said.
“We also have a check that we’re going to be presenting to the family for about $850, so they will be getting that towards the surgery as well,” Caffrey said.
“See ma, the world will now know Elijah,” Garcia said.
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
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