AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Eli Mahnken is a 6-year-old who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was just 22 months old. Nearly his entire life has been dominated by cancer.
Eli has a rare genetic mutation that makes the tumor very hard to treat. It has come back several times and recently started to spread to other parts of his brain and spine. Right now, there is no plan for how to treat the disease.
His dream is to one day run in the Olympics. The occupational and physical therapy departments at Children’s Hospital Colorado came together to make Eli’s wish come true Sunday at Smoky Hill High School track.
FOX31/Channel 2’s own Nicole Fierro emceed as Eli, coming in at 3 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 45 pounds, dominated the 100-meter dash, long jump and relays, earning his much deserved honor as an Olympic gold champion.
Eli goes to Independence Elementary School in Aurora, and was inspired to run in the Olympics after learning about Wilma Rudolph, who went on to win three gold medals in track and field after being told as a child she would never walk again secondary to bouts of polio and scarlet fever.
Fun facts about the young athlete:
• Eli has names for many members of his medical team – he calls his physical therapist the pain master
• Eli’s hero is his neuro-oncologist – Dr. Foreman