People workout to raise money for family of Knox County boy with spina bifida

FILE PHOTO: Lift For Eli, 2015

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An entire workout community gathered on Thursday to help out a little boy with special needs and his family. The event was called “Lift For A Cause 2015,” held at Frankie’s Body Shop in North Knoxville.

Elijah James, 5, suffers from a severe form of spina bifida.

On the surface, the day seemed all about building muscle, but physical trainers like Reed Stevenson say working out is about building what’s inside, as much as what’s outside.

“I love helping people. I love anything you can do to give back to the community,” Stevenson said.

Previous story: Knox County boy with severe spina bifida named ‘special deputy’

Stevenson is one of several trainers and clients at Frankie’s Body Shop who took part in the event, with a goal to lift weights to help Eli’s family.

“Eli is like family to us. Eli, his mom, and sister,” explained Frankie Padilla, owner of Frankie’s Body Shop.

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Eli’s mom says regularly working out at Frankie’s with his trainer Rich Stone has made a big difference to the young boy, both physically and mentally.

“He’s such an inspiration to everyone. Not just kids, but adults too. That if you put your mind to something, you can do whatever you want,” Stone said.

Now the community he inspires is sweating it out to help Eli’s family with medical bills.

Previous story: Wheelchair ramp for Knoxville boy with severe spina bifida complete

“There are a lot of expenses involved with having a medically fragile child, but it also brings awareness to what families like us face,” explained Dawn James, Eli’s mother.

“It’s just a good feeling. At this time of the year too,” Stevenson said.

The goal of Thursday’s event was to raise $3,500 for the community. but Padilla says they’ve blown that number out of the water.

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