Elijah and Aria Parish
By: Cindy Chapman
You know the expression when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Elijah and Aria Parish have had their fair share of lemons and they are prime examples of how to make life so sweet.
Elijah, a 7th grader at Tidwell Middle School, and Aria, a 5th grader at Cox Elementary, are both typical kids, but their story makes them amazing.
When their mom, Elida, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago, little did the Parish family know just how hard the journey was going to be.
Not only were Elijah and Aria the best cheerleaders and supporters for their mom when the hard days came, they were also striving to be their very best outside the home.
Aria enjoys photography and videography, so when her mom was first diagnosed, Aria began to chronicle her mother's journey. She also created a video just for kids, all about how to take care of a loved one going through breast cancer.
A born performer, Aria nailed her audition for her dream part as Elsa in Frozen. Aria, who is of diverse heritage may not have looked like the Queen of Arendelle but her afro was transformed into a long white braid and her performance brought audience members to their feet every time.
Aria also co-founded and runs a non-profit called AraMeal, where she has plans to eliminate hunger in America by providing hot meals to children and others in need.
Elijah is more of the strong silent type. An honor roll student, Elijah showed determination by making sure that cancer did not stand in the way of “usual life” in the Parish household.
This tenacity probably stems from Elijah’s accomplishments with taekwondo and performing on stage. In the past year, Elijah represented Roanoke ATA, by competing in seven different categories in Texas, Louisiana, New Orleans and Las Vegas, All while racking up 42 medals and currently ranking 10th in the world in the Creative Forms Category.
When not playing football, Elijah has a passion for jazz. Even though he was not paired with his first choice instrument (saxophone) in Middle School Band, he worked hard to master the clarinet and worked from 19th chair to 2nd chair. He then took it upon himself to learn to play the saxophone over the summer and ultimately convinced the band director to switch instruments, and is now 1st chair saxophone.
Elijah has been on multiple mission trips where he works back-breaking labor to serve the homeless or displaced individuals. Aria started a prayer group and continues to encourage and lift up others in faith. Both are supporters of the breast cancer awareness movement by helping their mom run the Pink Mustard Seed Project, a non-profit to help women with breast cancer.
Fortunately, Elida is now a cancer survivor, so, along with her loving husband Christopher, they can fully enjoy all of the activities and experiences that come with being parents to these two amazing kids.