Road to Eli

At the age of 3, Eli was diagnosed with non-verbal Autism. The ongoing struggle from that day has been a challenging and painful one for Eli, his parents, and his two brothers. And as loving parents do, what followed has been many years of constantly seeking the best care, education, therapy and advice they could find with sometimes little to catastrophic results.  Eli’s behaviors became so severe that his family found themselves in a crisis situation and sadly looked to place Eli in a group home to get him the best help.  After going through the anguish of being separated from their child but with the hope that he would return to them with a new start, instead his parents removed him from the group home shortly after, as the caregivers were unable to handle Eli.  In 2013, at the age of 9, while playing outside, Eli suffered a head injury resulting in a post concussive syndrome.  After his injury, Eli began engaging in self-injurious behavior that put his own life and health at risk, as well as the safety of his family, friends, and caregivers.  Due to his ongoing self-inflicted injuries, and after being subjected to multiple surgeries the last few years, Eli is now legally blind with partial vision only in his right eye.  Eli is now 12 years old. 

Eli’s parents, James and Sheila Thomas, have spent countless hours trying to work within the channels provided by grants, through persistent phone calls and never-ending paperwork, always striving to get Eli the best care he needs.  Just this year, after eighteen months on the waiting list, Eli has finally been accepted to one of the most prestigious and highly regarded treatment centers in the world for children on the Autism Spectrum, The Kennedy-Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland! He is finally receiving the behavioral, psychological, and medical treatment that he desperately needs, along with the opportunity to learn and express himself through a customized communication program. 

James and Sheila have begun attending several parent assessments, trainings, and educational classes, in order for Eli's treatment to have an effective outcome when he returns home. They will travel a minimum of six times in the next five months back and forth from Florida to Maryland to participate in these trainings. While excited about this blessing for Eli, they do not have the necessary finances to cover the trips back and forth. Coupled with the added pressure of missed work, and meeting the emotional and material needs of their other two boys, AJ and Simon, this is another challenge they will face.

Here is a photo of Eli with his dad, James, the week before leaving for the Kennedy-Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

As James' employer, I have known and become friends with the Thomas family for over 11 years now.  His hard work, reliability and commitment to his work, is only overshadowed by the commitment and love he has for his family.  Many of you know James, and can attest to his exceptional work ethic he brings every day, despite personal trials.  It is our turn to say thank you and show our appreciation. 

Please share with me in giving financial support to the family so that they can make the necessary trips back and forth to receive their training and education to help Eli.  This treatment for Eli will be life changing not only for him, but for the whole family, and every person that touches his life.  

Thank you all for your support. It is my hope that we will raise enough money for the Thomas family to travel to Maryland as well as enjoy a family vacation with their boys. 

All funds raised will be paid directly to Eli’s mother, Sheila Thomas, for Supporting Eli's family's immediate financial needs.

Thank you,
April G. Kettelle
Owner, Automated Shading & Lighting Control
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April Gwen Kettelle 
Naples, FL
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