This is an angel named Eliza, she is the daugher of our Nephew Callahan and Nikki Williams. With their permission I would like to share her’s and her father’s stories.
Eliza has a rare disease named Metachromatic Leukodystrophy or MLD. It’s progressive and terminal. At the age of 18 months she was an adorable little girl doing normal things for her age. Her physical state began to deteriorate; she walked less and crawled more. Within a short while she could no longer run or jump. Her condition continued to deteriorate; it took some time before she was finally diagnoised with this condition. In 2007 about a month after being diagnoised with MLD, Eliza lost her ability to crawl, sit up, talk and eat independently. She now has a feeding tube. She can no longer see but she does respond to music and sounds. She loves to have books read to her. For the past two years her mother has been taking her to school with the belief that Eliza can hear and learn. It has been an incrediable experience for so many to meet Eliza, especially the children from her class as they learned to love and care for Eliza.
Callahan and Nikki are remarkable parents. They have been blessed with another sweet daughter named Caroline; she was born on her mother’s birthday. She’s a special gift to this amazing family.
Through these difficult years, Eliza’s parents have been successful in raising donations and increasing awarness of MLD. They have hopes the medical world will find a cure for diseases like this. They have been involved in TeamGive, an organization that helps to raise money and awareness of rare neurological diseases. As quoted from that web site: “Every day a child in the United States is diagnosed with a debilitating and life-threatening neurological disease. Teamgive’s mission is to fund the research that will provide cures and treatments for neurological diseases afflicting children. With your help teamgive will find cures for the neurological diseases afflicting children like Eliza”.
Eliza’s parents also started “Eliza’s Library.” They collect children’s book to be distrubuted to various hospitals, physician offices and other medical facilities. These books are being placed all over the world. To date they have collected and placed more than 22, 000 books. Many have been gathered as service projects and Eagle projects. Anyone interested in this type of activity for church or community, can learn more about it at Eliza’s Library .
In June of this year Eliza’s father, Callahan was participating in the Rockwell Relay Race for Teamgive. This annual race is 300 miles on bike from Moab to St. George, Utah. Callahan was on the last part of the race. He had reached the summit of Boulder Mountain when he hit a cattle guard, his tire stopped instantly he was propelled over his handlebars. He remained consicious and remembered flipping and then falling onto his back and right side striking the back of his head. He couldn’t move and was having a hard time breathing. Another cyclist was right behind him and witnessed the accident. He stopped, and the rest of the relay team were just a few minutes behind in the support car. He was given a Priesthood blessing from his teammates, within minutes a sports medicine physician arrived and helped to stablilize his neck in a brace. One support member had been given a satelite phone earlier without explanation. That phone made it possible to call for Life Flight which transported him to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. At first Nikki was told that he had a partial spinal cord injury. She found him in tremendous pain and his legs were cramping. He couldn’t move his body. He was taken to the Neuro Shock ICU. The MRI and scans comfirmed that he had a crushed C4 Vertebrae which had pushed it 4.5 mm into his spinal column causing bruising and swelling. It would require surgery. The swelling needed to go down before they could attempt surgery. He could only slightly bend his right leg and with considerable effort, move his arms up and down. He could not move his hands, fingers, toes or his left leg but there was hope that after the swelling decreased movement would improve.
After surgery came weeks of rehabilitation. He worked hard to learn to walk and climb stairs again. He is doing well except for some of the fine motor skills in his fingers. He is expected to fully recover. The complete story of Callahan can be found on “Eliza’s Wish” under; “How Is She Doing”. Here are some photo’s of Callahan and his sweet family before and after his recovery.
As a family we know that Eliza and Callahan have been greatly blessed by the prayers of many throughout the world. There have been so many tender mercies from the Lord. There have been times of fasting, praying and Priesthood blessings where small miracles have occured. Eliza has touched the hearts of thousands. Here are some closing thoughts from Eliza’s mother Nikki: “It is amazing how much MLD has changed our lives; we hope it has changed us for the better. Eliza has taught us how to live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted. We get excited about the smallest things; smiles, sneezes, and her little stretches as she yawns. She has touched countless lives, without being able to say a word. She is truly a silent example to all who come in contact with her. We feel fortunate to be her parents and to learn from her. She has taught us far more than we will ever teach her.” Take a few moments to read about Eliza and her family. You will be happy that you looked into Eliza’s world.
It is such a sweet experience to witness this wonderful family in action. They have handled this adversity with a great deal of faith. The next day after Callahan’s accident we drove to the hospital to see how he was doing. Being a nurse I was expecting to see him under sedation and unable to communicate. We were so amazed that we found him lying there in his bed with his neck brace on and greeted us with a big smile. As he smiled; I relaxed knowing that Callahan would be OK. I felt the comfort of the Spirit testify to me that all would be well. My husband’s brother reviewed with us all that had happened the night before and there was no doubt in our minds that he was watched over by a loving Heavenly Father and that miracles had occured that night. Because of these miracles we knew that Callahan would prevail; he would recover. We know that Callahan and Nikki have great faith in the power of prayer and priesthood blessings. They are a living testimony of their belief. In all of the adversity that they have had with their daughter Eliza and now with Callahan they have been wonderful examples of pure faith. They have strengthened our own testimonies and those of countless others.
Each Christmas they have a tradition where all who would like to send cards or letters to Eliza telling her about the service that has been given during the Christmas Season may do so @ Eliza’s Library – 90W. 500S. # 118 Bountiful, Utah 84010. The letters are place under her Christmas tree. On Christmas morning her parents read each of these sweet letters to Eliza. Here is the link to the newspaper article telling about this event. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705354077/True-Christmas-spirit-grows-on-Elizas-tree.html?pg=1
By LeAnn At Living Waters