Young Cabarrus boy who inspired community dies after battle with rare cancer

Elijah Aschbrenner
Elijah Aschbrenner Source: “Prayers for Elijah" Facebook page

A community is grieving after a young boy who inspired a movement in Cabarrus County lost his battle with a rare form of cancer.

Elijah Aschbrenner, who had been battling epitheliod sarcoma for more than a year, died late Tuesday.

“At 10:52 p.m., my baby went to be with Jesus,” Elijah’s mother, Becky Hughes, wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to his cancer fight. “Our lives will never be the same; but because of him our lives were forever changed.”

Elijah’s cancer was discovered in his neck in May 2014. The 10-year-old had a recurrence this past Easter in his lung and started a new trial in Atlanta in August. His dad told WBTV’s Molly Grantham that things had been “up-and-down.”

During his battle, Elijah struck a chord with many in the community including NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton.

In May, Elijah joined Earnhardt and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick on the runway as part of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s “Catwalk for a Cause” pediatric cancer fundraiser.

Last month, his neighbors and friends rallied to give Elijah an early Halloween, his favorite holiday, for fear that he wouldn’t make it.

When Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback Cam Newton heard about it, he reportedly called and talked to Elijah. He then surprised everyone by showing up at the party, hand delivering all of Elijah’s favorites foods.

On Wednesday, thousands of people who have followed Elijah’s journey have sent condolences, including Earnhardt and NASCAR driver Joey Logano.

WBTV is a media partner of The Charlotte Observer.