HARLEM, NEW YORK – The parents of a 3-year-old boy who died after he was given a grilled cheese sandwich, to which he was severely allergic, at a community daycare, said they have been lifted in love and kindness.
Through a statement released by their attorney, Elijah Silvera’s parents thanked strangers for all of their support during this incredibly painful time and vowed to ensure their child did not die in vain.
“My wife Dina and I spend hours reading your messages. They are a lifeline during this horrible time period. We are moved to tears to know that we are not alone, both in our heartbreak and in our concern for safety around allergies in schools.
We also want to say that while we remain absolutely devastated over the loss of our sweet son Elijah, the outpouring of love from across the country has inspired us to ensure that his death did not happen in vain. As Elijah’s parents, we will use our voices to draw attention to completely preventable life-threatening allergic reactions in U.S. daycares and schools. These preventable tragedies must come to an end.
Every day since Elijah left us has been so painful. We come home to an apartment that has an eerie kind of emptiness. It is filled with his toys, his pictures on our walls, and the sounds of one child, the other missing.
The statement continued:
Elijah’s brother Sebastian asked us how we could go see his baby brother in Heaven, “Can we ride a rocket ship to reach to him?” he asked, and our hearts broke all over again. The reality hits us, subsides, and then hits us again, and our hearts break each time. Your messages of love, support, and shared experiences are holding us up. We may be too overwhelmed to respond to everyone, but we want to thank you.
Focusing on advocacy for other children like Elijah gives us hope. You give us hope.
While we can no longer protect Elijah, hold him in our arms, or kiss his sweet little face, we can still fight for kids like him. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.
With Gratitude and Determination, Elijah’s Parents, Dina & Thomas”
A family friend wrote that Elijah “was given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at pre-K, despite them knowing and having documentation that he had a severe allergy to dairy.”
The toddler went into anaphylatic shock and died at a hospital. He’s survived by his parents and 5-year-old brother.
The school, the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem, was shut down Wednesday until further notice.
City health officials ordered the pre-kindergarten school closed for failing to follow a written safety plan and failing to adequately supervise a child and a violation of a health code. Agency officials say they’re investigating the boy’s death.
As of Saturday morning, a GoFundMe for Elijah’s funeral has raised more than $51,000. The parents hope to use the funds donated to fund an independent autopsy.
Elijah is survived by his 5-year-old brother. The family is also looking to hire a therapist who can help Elijah’s brother with the shocking loss.