MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)-- Elijah Sprague has faced a lot of challenges in his young life.

He’s defied a lot of odds considering he’s lived much longer than doctors expected when he was born prematurely, weighing just one pound and diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

At age 6 doctors said he was autistic.

Back in February of 2019 Elijah was extremely sick in the hospital for 40 days.

"That has really affected his muscle tone and since then he hasn't been walking as often. He's in his wheelchair a lot more," said his mother, Rene Sprague.

Now at 15 Elijah's family is racing against time as he loses function in his legs.

His mother, Rene Sprague, says three weeks ago an MRI revealed Elijah had torn a big ligament in his hip that couldn't be fixed by surgery.

"It’s scary. It's frustrating for him too because he doesn't understand why he can't walk without hurting."

The best solution was something similar to what she found at her son's dance studio for autistic children.

It’s a specialized standing walker that he could use for the rest of his life, but at $2,500 it's a pricey device, especially for a family with three children.

"He's big. He’s a big kid. He's 15 and so this is about the only way we have of getting him standing and upright bearing weight on his feet and able to propel himself at all."

Sprague started doing whatever she could to raise money.

"Putting on Facebook we were just selling everything in our house that was extra. So I've got three kids so tons of hand me down clothes and toys and i put a picture of Elijah in the walker and said this is why we're selling stuff."

Her efforts caught the attention of Cole Howard, a long time family-friend and Elijah's former camp counselor. 

"He doesn't let his autism define him and I love that about him. He has a way of tugging at your heart strings without using words because he is non verbal," said Howard.

Howard is part of a small business called Craig & Co. that helps organizations fundraise for different causes.

"I would do it for anybody, but the fact that it was Elijah that needed this walker that we saw an opportunity to help and we took it."

They’re campaigning to "Stand with Elijah" by selling t-shirts with all proceeds going toward his  new walker.

The idea behind the design is that, Elijah, who loves elevators, is cheering with his hands lifted in the air because he's on his way up with his new specialized walker.

"It excites me so much just to be able to know that we're going to get this for him one way or the other."

Sprague says since the beginning she and her husband have always focused on the quality in Elijah's life over the quantity.

"Because we were told he would not live long and so we decided early on that we were just gonna do what we could with the life that we had and keep him happy and comfortable."

After what's been a rough year for Elijah they're hoping they can give him some relief with a new specialized walker. 

"Since he was tiny his only motivation has really been to move. He was never interested in talking or eating even. His goal was to move and so we've always worked toward that."

The t-shirt has only been on the Craig & Co. website for about a week, but they're already at the $1,700 mark with just 800 dollars to go toward their goal.

If you'd like to  help them reach that goal visit this link.


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