The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 12, 2013

Young cancer fighter hopes to fulfill bucket list

By Lora Scripps

— A bucket list typically includes experiences and achievements a person hopes to accomplish in a lifetime.

Not something a 9-year-old boy should be concerned with.

But in the past week, Eli Williams, 9, of Athens has his bucket list in mind. 

The Athens Bible School student was diagnosed Dec. 29, 2011, with high-risk medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade brain tumor that always begins in the cerebellum.

Eli has been undergoing therapy as a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Last week — a day after his birthday — he found out his cancer had relapsed.

His family including his mom Kristie, dad Vic and three siblings have not given up hope. Eli will undergo experimental treatments. However, plans are for the family to spend Christmas at home while they help Eli fulfill his bucket list wishes before treatments begin.

One of Eli’s family friends, Kelli Cain, started a fundraising campaign for Eli to help make those wishes come true.

Cain met the Williams family after Kristie reached out to her and her family when Cain’s daughter MaKenzey was diagnosed. “We kind of became cancer families,” she said. “We’ve helped each other along our journeys and have teamed up together to raise money for St. Jude several times.”

Cain said her family has been so blessed from the community, friends and family. “There is no way I could ever repay them financially but I can do things like this to be a blessing to others,” she said.

She added that when she first read a post that Eli had relapsed her heart sank because she knew exactly what that meant. She sent a text to her daughter at school who replied, “Mom, I’m wearing his shirt today.” Tears streamed down Cain’s face as she thought about the possibility of her daughter getting the same news.

“Eli is a brave and precious boy,” she said on the fundraising site. “He has spent the past two years fighting a horrible cancer. … The family is prepared for treatment trials and is weighing all the options. They do however have a little bit of time before experimental treatments begin.

“They would like to do a few items on Eli’s bucket list including a trip to Disney World. (They have never been.)”

Cain said the family is devastated and are facing the tough fact that time with Eli could be limited.

Cain set up the account with a set amount of $3,000. “We exceeded that goal in less than four hours,” Cain said. “I decided to keep it up because I know it costs more than that for a family of six to go to Disney and I wanted him to be able to do whatever his little heart dreams of — big or small.”

The family is also big Auburn fans and hope they can make a trip to Pasadena for the Bowl Championship Series title game. Eli also likes Mustangs and would love to go to Michigan to the Ford Mustang factory.

“The family plans to use the money with their first priority being experimental treatment and travel to learn about treatment options, and then to fulfill Eli’s bucket list as they see fit,” Cain said.

“We need as many people possible lifting Eli up to our creator, the only one with the miracle of complete healing,” she added. “We also ask you to please help us be a blessing for this family to fulfill the dreams that live in the heart of a 9-year-old boy.”

To find out more about Eli Williams, visit “Praying for Eli Williams!” on Facebook.

To help make Eli’s wishes come true, visit