I was asked to write an article about Elijah for our school paper. I’ve known him since first grade so I knew I could write a glowing article about him but then I got to thinking about how many people know him like I do and could write a great piece on him. So with this in mind I asked the seniors, Helias staff, and some of his other friends to say something to him. The responses I got were overwhelming and I’d like to share them in the following narrative.
Elijah Mayfield came from Saint Peter where he loved and was loved by his class. Eighth grade teacher Val Jones said, “People always compliment how well behaved that class is and how much they all get along. I think Elijah was the cornerstone of that.” But after Saint Peter most of the class would go to Helias, but Helias didn’t have a program for special needs kids such as Elijah. The Mayfields eventually worked out a plan for Elijah to attend Helias. When asked why they wanted Elijah at Helias, Todd Mayfield, Elijah’s dad, said, “We chose Helias because of Elijah’s St.Peter classmates. K-8 was great for him and it just made sense for Elijah to spend four years with his buddies before they all went to college. We were able to send him there because of how well his eighth grade class got along with him. They gave us the courage to send him there. We never dreamed he would be as well received as he was. It was a huge milestone in Elijah’s life.”
John Rhea, one of Elijah’s St.Peter classmates said, “I’ve been friends with “Mayf” since kindergarten, and there hasn’t been one day he hasn’t made me smile. He’s the most enthusiastic kid I know, who has the most Sader spirit in the school. I remember we were driving home late from a football game on the bus, about 1 O’clock in the morning, and all of a sudden you hear, ‘GIVE ME AN H!’ He never loses energy, and has a love for Helias like no one else. I’ll never forget his post game talks after a win, and his jump hugs into the crowds!”
John wasn’t alone in getting pumped up by Elijah during sports events. Sports would actually become one of Elijah’s defining roles at Helias. He managed three teams during his four years at Helias. In particular he was a huge presence during the football season. Elijah energized the team before the game. “When he yells ‘say it loud boys, say it loud’ before a game it really pumps up the team! He helps get our heads in the game!” commented senior Holden Hirsch. He is also getting the crowd pumped up during the game by carrying on the legacy of Leon Vanderfeltz with the classic, “GIVE ME AN H” cheer. Elijah not only pumped up the crowd but also helped out the players. “If I came off the field after a bad play I could always count on Elijah to be waiting with a pat on the back and some words of encouragement,” said senior Christian Hake.
Elijah also made an impression on the coaching staff. Coach Andy Pitts said about him, “He is genuinely happy to see you and see you do well. He really appreciates your presence.” Head Coach Phil Pitts said, “There are so many ways to judge whether someone is a success, but I think one of the greatest ways is to look at someone and ask – ‘Do they have enthusiasm, passion, and love for what they do?’ There is no doubt that Elijah has these things and he teaches us all that we can and should have these things! Many people tell me that the above three things are some of my greatest attributes, but I can’t hold a candle to Elijah when it comes to enthusiasm, passion, and love! He teaches me those things and for that I will always be grateful and remember Elijah! He is everything this school stands for and he is a true Helias Crusader!”
When Coach Pitts said he is a true Helias Crusader he meant it. It seemed like everyone of his fellow Saders had something to say whether it be staff or student.
The following are just some of the quotes I received about Elijah: Senior Merlin Phelps said, “I remember when we cleaned the school together one summer. We became good buddies. He is the one who started calling me Mer.”
Mr. Martin said, “‘If he can tell I’m having a difficult day he shakes my hand and says ‘Mr. Martin I love you!’ It turns my day cheery!”
One of his classmates Alex Schwinke simply commented, “I appreciate his big hugs!” When Senior Jared Rackers tore his ACL Elijah checked up on him every day of school to see how the healing process was going. “He is very sympathetic to anyone with an injury!” said Rackers.
Jacob Schulte said, “He calls me coz (short for cousin) and he is the loudest one cheering at my wrestling matches!”
Secretary Peggy Rogers got to know Elijah when he helped her out in the office. She said, “Elijah is the true meaning of a real friend. He can be ornery but is always a lot of fun. I’m glad he was here the last four years.”
Elijah was not only well loved by his graduating class. Even freshman like Dane Borovicka say, “He is awesome!” Senior Brooke Harms said, “I’m pretty sure if you lined up the whole student body he could work his down the line naming every single person.”
One of Elijah’s best friends from grade school Becky Roberts has many fond memories of him, “He was getting interviewed by KOMU and they asked him about love. He said he loved me and we were going to get married, but it was going to be kind of a pretend marriage!”
Another one of his best friends Brock Gerstner said, “Elijah Mayfield. Just that name can bring a smile to anyone’s face, especially mine. Elijah has a special gift that nobody else that I know has. He can always bring a smile to your face. He is the most joyful, caring, funny, genuine person I have ever met and I know how lucky I am to be able to call him my best friend.”
Senior Baylee Francka agreed with Brock saying, “I have absolutely loved getting to know Elijah over the last four years! Every time I’m around him, I leave with a smile on my face. He genuinely loves everyone he meets and he is such a blessing to Helias and to the community.” There were plenty of other great quotes about him but for the sake of length I think all the quotes said an unsaid illustrate the point that senior Abbie Verslues said, “Elijah truly embodies the heart and spirit of Helias.”
I told the Mayfields about this article and Pam Mayfield, Elijah’s mother, wrote a note showing that not only do we love Elijah and all he has done for us but they are appreciative us as well. I thought it appropriate to end with that note: “Helias faculty, coaches, teammates and parents, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for what you have done for our family. Eighteen years ago when Elijah was born, I was scared. I was scared for us and for him. I didn’t have a clue as to how to raise this child I had been given. I was afraid that he wouldn’t have friends, that people wouldn’t accept him, that he wouldn’t have a good life. But, Elijah is having a great life and you all are a huge part of that. You have treated him like a classmate, teammate, a friend. You have given him opportunities that I never thought were possible for him. From his time at St. Peter to his time here at Helias, you have made a difference in his life forever. He has friends, friends that look out for him. His phone has more contacts in it than I can even begin to imagine having. He has friends that call and text him all the time. He has been part of assemblies, had his own team gear, road on team buses and been able to cheer on his very favorite team in the whole wide world…his Helias Crusaders. None of this would have been possible without the coaches, teachers, students and parents being willing to allow Elijah to share in their school, their teams. I know it wasn’t always easy to include him, but you all did. You made sacrifices so he could be a part of Helias. As his classmates look to their future and what college and career they might choose, I just want them to understand what they have done for our family. They have helped Elijah to have a great life, we will forever be grateful to you all for allowing him to be part of Helias Catholic High School.”
The Crusader Raid, Vol. 6, Num. 4.
The Spring/Summer Issue
Written by Nate Jones