Elijah, who suffers from spina bifada, was treated just like his favorite superstar on a wish trip to Atlanta for Aldean’s “Burn It Down” tour, granted by children’s charity Kids Wish Network, and the local teen is enjoying the spotlight.
His mother, Brandy Brannon Cook, said her son is a natural funny guy, and he hopes someday to be an actor or comedian. Along with meeting his singing idol, Elijah also got the opportunity to have a key role in a local dinner theatre mystery play and had lunch at the Sun Dial Restaurant, which was a real treat.
“I couldn’t have planned a more perfect wish for Elijah. He felt like such a celebrity because everywhere we went, everyone knew his name,” Brandy Cook said. “Elijah has a memory that will last forever. He is on cloud nine.”
During the trip, the Teasley Middle School rising eighth-grader found out he and Aldean both know all the words to Aldean’s songs, love the Georgia Bulldogs, and now, have both had the red-carpet treatment, according to a release from the charity.
Elijah was born with spina bifida, a developmental congenital disorder caused when the bones of the spine don’t form properly around the baby’s spinal cord, the release said.
When he was only 24 hours old, Elijah had his first surgery. His second surgery came shortly after as he was rushed into emergency surgery to place a shunt in his brain. Installed 13 years ago, his shunt is still intact but Elijah needed another five surgeries as a result of his condition.
But none of that slows him down, his mother said.
Despite his condition and being wheelchair bound, Elijah is an extremely upbeat and positive young man who has a larger than life personality, his mom said.
In addition to school, he enjoys the martial art practice of Choi Kwang Do, and if things go well, this fall he will be the first person in a wheelchair to get a black belt, his mother said.
Brannon Cook said her son originally read online that another child had a wish granted by Kids Wish Network to visit the set of “NCIS,” one of Elijah’s favorite television shows, and he decided to apply.
“I didn’t think he had a chance, I was honestly thought it was a shot in the dark,” she said.
“Actually, he was googling the set of ‘NCIS,’” and came across the organization and he said, ‘Hey, do you think I can do this?’ His original wish was to go there, but they asked him for three choices and second was to meet Jason Aldean, his favorite country singer,” Brannon Cook said.
Once the family knew where they were going, the excitement really began to build, she said.
Elijah loved being the center of attention during his wish trip, as Kids Wish Network delivered one exciting adventure after the other, according to the release.
Elijah and his family traveled to Atlanta where they stayed at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, dined at fantastic restaurants, explored local attractions and helped Jason Aldean “Burn It Down” at the country star’s concert.
Arriving in a state-of-the-art handicap-accessible limo, the concert and meeting Aldean were definitely the highlights of Elijah’s wish, according to the release.
“I really love Jason Aldean and his music,” recalls Elijah. “Getting to meet him was incredible. Thank you Kids Wish Network, I couldn’t have done this without you.”
Elijah continues to share his photos and memories of his wish trip with everyone he meets, his mom said.
“This has just been so great for him,” she said.