Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elijah Herrera-Edison Charger Overcoming Odds

Elijah Herrera #9 Scoring Game Winning TD against Servite- (all photos via

As Edison heads into another difficult game this time against San Clemente, which will be aired on FoxSportWest & Primeticket this Friday night at 8:30 pm PST, I can't help but take a look back at what Elijah's had to overcome. First he was hit by a car while riding his bike home from surfing. He was very fortunate and only received injury to his foot and achilles. He was pretty scraped up and ended up in a walking cast. But we felt so blessed that he was kept safe. Nine months later, before he was to start his first Edison High School Freshman football practice, Elijah came down with the VERY serious Meningococcal Meningitis virus. He woke up early in the morning with a severe headache. I gave him Advil but it continued to get worse. It wasn't until I saw his hands "posturing" that I knew something was seriously wrong.

I was very familiar with this as my younger brother passed away after he received severe head trauma in a car accident. While in the hospital with him I noticed his hands moving which the nurse replied, "It happens when there's brain's involuntary and called posturing."

This "clue" I feel ended up being a blessing and a life saver for my son. I asked Elijah, "What are you doing with your hands." When he replied, "Nothing, why?"  I immediately got him to the hospital, still unaware of what exactly was wrong with him. After a spinal tap, the doctor's and nurses rushed into the room at a frantic pace with masks & gloves on and immediately moved us into isolation as they prepared to take him by ambulance to the Children's Hospital (CHOC in Orange). That is when we got the dismal news that he had the worst possible type of meningitis, bacterial. The side effects are severe (blindness, deafness, brain damage, gangrene, paralysis, and death.) It is one of the most deadly diseases and rarely leaves it's victims without its effects, if they survive.

Elijah spent a week in CHOC hospital with severe unbearable head & neck pain, while they continued to pump him with an IV full of all kinds of antibiotics. They continued to watch for signs of any other problems he may be developing while the bacteria sat in his brain & spinal fluid. He received visits from the OC Infectious Disease doctors and several others as they tried to figure out how he contracted it. The only thing we could come up with was that while boxing with his friends the night before, he received a blow to his face from a boxing glove and there may have been bacteria on the glove that traveled up through his nose.

They waited for his specific initial culture to grow out completely to make sure he was receiving the right treatment. But in the meantime, tons and tons of his friends were sending out mass text messages to be praying for him. Then a miracle happened...the initial bacteria completely stopped growing! The OC Infectious Disease Doctor said she had never seen anything like it. They continued to treat him for the initial findings and he began to heal. Slowly he got better without a single side effect! He eventually regained his strength and was back playing football...the sport he loves and has been playing since the age of 5 (on the exact same Edison football field that he plays on today!)

During his sophomore year, two of the running backs got hurt and they called him up from the JV team after he had a phenomenal game running the ball against Marina & Huntington Beach. He impressed the coaches and finished out the year as a the varsity running back. Then by his junior year, he again stepped into the running back position and outside linebacker. He helped lead the Chargers to an undefeated Sunset League Championship, set a school record for the longest kickoff return for a touchdown~99 yards & led the team in touchdowns. As his Senior year gets started, he is currently a Co-Captain and leads the Chargers in tackles at the outside linebacker position and once again rotates in at running back.

His road hasn't been easy, but through a life threatening illness God has helped him to overcome the odds. He knows the importance of giving everything you have and never giving up, because dreams are too important and his story could have had a much different ending.
Elijah Running the ball against Mater Dei


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