One year ago today, our community suffered a loss that still reverberates today. Five-year-old Elijah Caddick, who was autistic, left this life after a tragic drowning accident. He left behind him hundreds of people who loved him — his mother, father, and brothers; his family and friends; his teachers, caregivers and therapists; and all the many people who learned about this child in the months after his death.
His mother, Melissa, has been a pillar of strength over the past 12 months despite her immense pain and loss. She has showered love on her other boys, one of whom has Mitochondrial Disease. She has lost friends who can’t understand her loss, but she has also gained friends who look to her as an example of how to survive grief and live in a way that honors the child she lost.
Through her work with ERA Strother Real Estate (the Real Agents of Harnett County), she has raised thousands of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which helped 12 children to attend summer camp. Melissa has also joined the Central Carolina Jaycees, through which she hopes to truly honor Elijah’s memory and make a lasting impact on the community in his name.
How? Melissa wants to build a park. Elijah’s park. The kind of park where he could’ve played for hours without worrying about heat or noise, where he could swing or play without getting hurt, and where the equipment is especially suited to children with physical, mental, sensory, or behavioral conditions. A park where every child in Lee County can come and play — not just typical ones.
In honor of Elijah, his mom wants to build the type of place Elijah would’ve loved, and that will keep both his name and spirit alive in our community. But neither she nor the Central Carolina Jaycees can do it without the whole community’s help. Here’s how you can help:
- Volunteer. If you can volunteer your time for planning or your “elbow grease” for building, we’d love to have you.
- Donate. Parks cost money. Often, a whole lot of money. We welcome any fundraisers or donations (money or materials) and are working on establishing a 501(c)3 just for this park project.
- Support. Please let us — Melissa, most especially — know you are in our corner for this project. Share the word. Tell your family and friends. Ask you coworkers to get involved. The more support for this project, the better chance we can make it happen.
And if you’re reading this on July 26, the anniversary of Elijah’s death, there’s one more way to honor this sweet, special child.
Elijah loved princesses. In his honor, his mom has asked everyone to release a princess balloon in his memory. Take a picture of your release and tag her on Facebook. If you aren’t friends with Melissa, you can tag us and she’ll see it.
From the Caddick family and the Central Carolina Jaycees, we thank you in advance for helping us making Melissa’s (and Elijah’s) dreams a reality.