Elijah Cullison was diagnosed with leukemia in June. And now, his desk at Prairie Park School sits empty.
Elijah, 11, died Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
“He brought something different to the class,” sixth-grader Colton Lovelace said. “He brought a boost of energy to us. Just not having him in there, it makes us really, really low. ... We’re really sad to not have him here anymore.”
Elijah’s fellow students at Prairie Park — and at Kennedy School, which he also attended for a few years — are hoping to raise money to help others who have leukemia. Students and staff at both schools are taking part in the Pennies for Patients program to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“We want every class to donate some pennies for kids who have leukemia,” Colton said. “We started it because of Elijah. Hopefully ... the money that we raise here at Prairie Park (will) help to save some people’s lives.”
Resource teacher Beth Maloun was Elijah’s tutor, traveling every day from Prairie Park to his home.
“He had a zest for life, even through the chemo,” Maloun said. “He was just a great kid and he always had a positive outlook. He was a wonderful little guy.”
In the classroom, a stuffed monkey sits in Elijah’s chair. On his desk is a piece of poster board covered in multi-colored notes that his friends have written. A different student sits next to the monkey every day.
“I ... took those sticky notes to Elijah,” Maloun said. “That kept him really connected with the kids.”
Maloun said the students also hope to raise money to help Elijah’s family with medical expenses and funeral costs.
Elijah’s father, Phillip Cullison, said his son was in remission, but was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, a disease in which cells that usually attack infections attack healthy tissue.
“It ate up most of his spleen,” Phillip Cullison said. “It ate up his liver and started on his kidneys.”
Donations to the Elijah Cullison Memorial Fund can be made at Peoples Bank locations or sent to Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Kennedy School, 1605 Davis Road, or Prairie Park School, 2711 Kensington. Funeral services for Elijah are set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church.