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Chick-fil-A Opens Sunday to Throw Special Birthday Party for Autistic Boy

01-20-2019
Courtesy Rene Sprague
Courtesy Rene Sprague

Everyone knows Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, but one Alabama Chick-fil-A broke that rule to bless a young boy with special needs. 

Elijah Sprague, who has autism, celebrated his 14th birthday at the fast-food restaurant Sunday. 

According to WKRG News 5, Elijah's uncle is the store manager. He and the owner opened the restaurant and drive-thru window so Elijah could eat 'till his heart's content and fulfill his dream of working the drive-thru. 

Elijah's mother, Rene, was overwhelmed with gratitude. 

"The way people love this kid amazes me. It has truly changed the way I live my life. Loving people with your whole heart, judgments aside and with no anticipation of rewards. Thank you to every single person that loves our Elijah," she wrote in a Facebook post. 

Elijah is more than a child with "special needs." Rene told CBN News he's "a funny, beautiful, sometimes naughty, determined, genuine kid."

Elijah was born at just 22 weeks. He suffered from repeated brain bleeds which turned into cerebral palsy and autism. The infant spent six months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of South Alabama Children's Hospital.

Eventually, Elijah was put up for adoption. 

Rene, who worked at the same hospital Elijah stayed in, was desperate to adopt a baby with her husband. 

It was a perfect match and Rene and her husband had the honor of taking Elijah home and making him part of their family.  

"We've known since we brought Elijah home that his life would be limited, both in time and ability," she told CBN News. "Because of his strength and God's grace, he has far exceeded both. He continues to surpass expectations and has taught me to release control and enjoy the journey. He changed our lives' paths and taught us to love with our entire hearts with no anticipation of rewards.  He has been our biggest challenge, but man, what an unexpected gift!!"

Rene hopes others learn from Elijah's example. 

"Elijah, and other kids that are differently abled, are such an integral part of our communities. These kiddos have such pure hearts and can teach us so much about courage and integrity," she wrote. "I encourage everyone to reach out to a family that is raising a special needs baby and offer to pray for them, bring them dinner, invite mom over for a glass of wine. Raising Elijah (and my other babies) will be the greatest accomplishment of my life. But it is the hardest, most emotionally exhausting responsibility I could have ever imagined. Having a tribe of people that support me is just invaluable. I am eternally grateful for MY people and the people that love Elijah like he belongs to them."

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