We are thrilled to have Eliot Hayes as this year’s 2020 “Live Life to the Fullest” honoree! Our community is extremely blessed to have Eliot teach us, remind us and show us how to fight, be resilient and persevere! Thank you Eliot for inspiring us to live life with grace, love and determination. You are the epitome of living life to the fullest and we are truly honored to recognize you!
Eliot was in his last year of high school at RHS in February 2019. He was thriving. He matched his strong academic results with a wonderful run with his soccer team as MVP, taking them to the PA State championship for the first time in over 30 years. He had been accepted to the college of his choice and was just starting his basketball season when he told us: “I’ve noticed a weird lump in my lower abdominal region, do you think I should mention it in my wellness check up tomorrow?”
The doctor sent him in the same day for an ultrasound. We got a specialist appointment the following day, and surgery the next morning at 8 am at A.I Dupont hospital in Wilmington, DE. Just two days after the surgery, Eliot’s Dad received the phone call with the results of the biopsy. With tears in his eyes, he told us that Eliot had been diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma and we had to move into the Nemours hospital as soon as we could to start a grueling 3.5 year treatment program.
Nothing prepares you for this kind of news. We were suddenly transported to another planet where everything is scary, painful, and complicated. In those dark days, the community took us under its wing and it has kept us cocooned in its love ever since. We received countless forms of support that will stay forever in our hearts and minds. We were fed through delicious meal trains, Eliot was celebrated with a “get well party” before being admitted to the hospital; he received a standing ovation at his graduation ceremony that was made possible by the administration of the high school. Our fight against blood cancer became the village fight. Both LLS and Nemours hospital received astonishing amounts of money through fundraisers organized around Eliot’s disease. This race in his honor is yet another example of the care and support with which we have been blessed.
Eliot is now splitting his life between 2 countries. The US where his home is and the UK where he is studying (Durham University). He works with 2 excellent medical teams, 2 sets of Covid guidelines, and 2 cultures to savor. He is living his life to the fullest and is very moved to be the honoree of the 8th Dan’s Down Dog & Dash 5k run.
You can find more info on Eliot’s story on his CaringBridge page: