The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 20, 2014

'Give back when I go back': Friends of Eli and AHS Beta Club collecting DVDs

By Lora Scripps

— When Emily Leopard heard about Eli Williams, 9, collecting DVDs for his friends at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, she wanted to help.

Emily, an Athens High School senior, had read Eli’s story of courage in The News Courier and heard about him from people in the community. She knew the Athens Bible Student is currently fighting cancer and that he is undergoing treatment at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Although she doesn’t know him personally, Emily keeps up with Eli on Facebook. She recently noticed Eli’s mom, Kristie, had posted that the family was collecting DVDs to take to his next appointment in April.

 “The post said Eli was wanting to encourage others while he was going through the same thing and that he thought this was a way he could do it,” said Emily, who happens to be president of the AHS Beta Club. “Of course, we thought that was so awesome so we definitely — as the Beta Club — wanted to pitch in and help.”

Eli is calling the collection his “Give Back When I Go Back” campaign. DVDs for patients are part of the St. Jude wish list.

Eli and the Beta Club are collecting recent —popular full-length — new and gently used DVDs and the community can help. The movies should be rated G or PG.

Kristie wants donors to keep in mind that there are older teens at St. Jude as well. Her advice if for those that have a “teen connection” to have the teens pick out one of their favorites to donate, such as superhero movies like “Thor.”

“Guess what came out March 18 on DVD?” Kristie said in a post. “It’s wildly popular — ‘Frozen.’ “ Other popular movies and some of Eli’s favorites are “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar,” “Ice Age,” “Monsters University,” “Wall-E,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Despicable Me.”

Duplicate DVDs are fine to donate, according to Kristie. The DVDs will be distributed throughout the campus.

The Grasshopper Children’s Boutique, at 107 South Marion Street in Athens, and Midway Cycle on U.S. 72 in Madison, are serving as drop-off points. DVDs can be dropped off at the front office of Athens High School as well or given to Beta Club members or officers including Laken Berry, Reggie Battles and Rachel Bobo.

Eli’s DVD drive at Athens High will start after spring break, which is March 24-28.

The collection will end April 20.

The Beta Club is glad to help, according to Emily. She believes Eli has displayed perseverance throughout his entire fight. “Especially, I admire his family because through it all they have been very selfless and seek to give back to others even though they are going through a hard time,” Emily said. “That just really said, ‘WOW’ to me.”

Emily said the Beta Club, sponsored by Alycia Townsend, was founded on four principles — achievement, leadership, character and service.

“We strive to exemplify that in all we do,” she said, adding they push to take part in activities not only at school, but also in the community. The Beta Club motto is “Let us lead by serving others.”

Emily believes Eli’s drive is important. “It is helping us give back to someone who is also giving back to others, so it is a constant chain of spreading good,” she said.

To follow Eli’s story, visit or find “Praying for Eli Williams!” on Facebook.