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how Eli inspired a community to help sick children

In 2012, 20-month-old Eli’s parents got the news no parent wants to hear – Eli had been diagnosed with leukemia. Through months upon months of treatment for his disease, the Leingang family was supported by a squadron of caring family members, neighbors, friends, and even compassionate strangers. The community offered not just emotional support but financial help for Eli’s costly cancer treatments.

When Eli relapsed in 2016, the community again came to offer their help with expenses. This time the Leingangs respectfully said they didn’t need the help – but after spending so much time at Dayton Children’s, they knew many others who did.

That’s when the idea for a fundraiser to support kids at Dayton Children’s emerged. Eli’s dad, Brian, reached out to the family’s church and connected with Brett Bogan, an avid runner and member of Team G(race) Troy – a member of the Free to Run Foundation. Team G(race) was already actively raising funds in the community for causes they supported, but they happily agreed to get involved.

On Feb. 7, 2018, Eli was excited to visit the hospital yet again – this time it wasn’t for testing or treatment. Eli, now eight, in remission, and an avid soccer player, got to help Brett and his dad present a giant check for $2,500 raised by Team G(race) to members of the Dayton Children’s team.

The funds were earmarked for the Child Life department’s hematology and oncology fund to help purchase an activity cart and iPad charging station. Child Life specialist Rita Falkenbach told Eli that the charging station mean that all of their iPads would be ready to use all of the time, so no child would have to wait to borrow one.

You may remember hearing Eli’s story before, or seeing his photo on the cover of the Dayton Children’s Reaching New Heights brochure. His story was just one of many that inspired our community of donors to give generously to help create new spaces in the hospital for improved patient care.

Eli isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to his cancer fight; he still has regular testing in the Mills Family Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders to make sure his cancer hasn’t come back. But the impact he has made in his community by raising awareness of pediatric cancer and by inspiring many to give to Dayton Children’s helps him and his family know that, in some small way, there was a silver lining to their storm.

photos

  • (top photo) Eli on the cover of the Reaching New Heights brochure, shown receiving leukemia treatment at Dayton Children’s at age 2.
  • (bottom photo) left to right: Franki Meier, Dayton Children’s Hospital Foundation; Brett Bogan, Team G(race); Eli Leingage; Brian Leingage; Rita Falkenback, Dayton Children’s Child Life.

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