Elijah Gaddy — Thomasville’s little miracle, Spirit of Inspiration Award Winner
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word miracle as “an unusually marvelous thing or fact.”
Elijah Miracle Gaddy loved unusually marvelous things and facts. Few 10-year-old boys possess the constant thirst for knowledge as Jennifer Gaddy’s little miracle.
“He’ll ask a question about a question about a question until he’s sure has all the information he needs to do something with the knowledge he’s gained,” Jennifer Gaddy said. “He was a miracle in every way.”
As a rising fifth grader at Liberty Drive Elementary, Elijah wanted to be a Navy Seal and dreamed of one day becoming a police officer, where he told his mother he could “protect and serve.” These were the thoughts of a boy who understood his place in the world and felt his time on Earth needed to be spent helping others.
“It was just him,” said Jennifer. “He was like an old spirit that had been here before. He was full of wisdom. He didn’t ask the average questions kids would ask. He would ask questions that had an impact on not just his life but others. ‘How can I make a difference?’ That was him. It came from his unbelievable faith in God and he was going to do whatever it took to convey that message out to everyone.”
Elijah Gaddy played drums, studied karate and was a member of the Young Marines of Davidson County. But most of all, he loved people, especially men and women in uniform. Jennifer said her son would study police officers, from their mannerisms to the way they dressed. Becoming a police officer is what Elijah Gaddy wanted to do.
New Thomasville Police Chief Jeff Insley hadn’t been in the Chair City long when he met the inquisitive little 8-year-old in 2010. Elijah’s fascination with the badge and his devoted respect for law enforcement captured the new chief’s attention instantly.
“I hadn’t been here very long, but he had seen me, either at the store or his school,” Insley said. “He just took a liking to me. Every time I would go to Liberty Drive or I was out somewhere and he saw me, he would make a point to come over and talk to me. As a new chief, it meant a lot. It was always great to see him and his smile.”
A letter thanking Insley for “keeping the City of Thomasville safe” accompanied with Elijah’s picture hangs in the chief’s office, providing him a constant reminder of why police officers do what they do every day.
“When you’re having a crappy day it was great to know that it’s not all bad,” said Insley. “It makes you feel good to realize that you’re still able to make a difference. He was near and dear to me.”
Elijah Miracle Gaddy died Monday from a rare form of anemia. Within days of complaining about stomach pains, Elijah became seriously ill and passed away at Brenners Children’s Hospital. For those who knew him, to the ones who were touched by his infectious smile and zest for life, Elijah’s death has been difficult to accept.
“It was shock and a take back,” Insley, a father of three, said. “It’s a big loss and he will be missed. My heart and prayers go out to his family. I don’t know how I would deal with it.”
Jennifer and her husband Alan deal with Elijah’s death the only way they know how — through faith.
“We think that his mission here was done,” said Jennifer. “He had his call and he understood it. We feel like he did it so perfectly that he was like his name says ‘caught up in a chariot of fire.’ There’s not many people in the Bible who were so proficient as God directed that they suddenly are no more. He’s a suddenly. His legacy lives on in the lives he touched.”
When Elijah’s fourth grade teacher lost her father, he wrote her a letter, much like the one still hanging in Insley’s office. When asked to be a pallbearer for Elijah’s funeral, Insley accepted, feeling he wanted to give something back to a boy who meant so much to so many. Insley decided to pay his final respects to his biggest fan by posthumously fulfilling a dream this world never came to know.
“His dream was to be a policeman so I’m swearing him in as a Thomasville officer,” Insley said. “I’m placing a badge in his coffin. He may never have got to patrol the streets here but now he can patrol the streets in Heaven.”
Jennifer can’t wait to see her son again. They used to talk about the things Elijah wanted to ask God. She can see her son asking question after question, searching for that unusually marvelous thing or fact. It’s who he was, this dynamic spirit who seemingly had been here before.
Elijah Gaddy — Thomasville’s little miracle.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or email@example.com.