AMBERLEY VILLAGE, Ohio – For the past two and a half years, hundreds of friends and supporters in Greater Cincinnati and around the world have rallied to help Ethan Kadish.
On Sunday night, Ethan got to feel that love and support.
Ethan is the Loveland teenager who suffered a severe brain injury after being struck by lightning in 2013 while he was attending a summer camp in Indiana. His family has been documenting his journey of recovery for the friends and supporters known as Team Ethan, and WCPO has been telling his story on air and online.
Although he had just come home from a short stay at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center the day before, Ethan attended the third annual Eighth Night for Ethan fundraiser at Rockdale Temple. For the fundraiser, Jewish families are encouraged to use the money they would otherwise spend on presents for the eighth night of Hanukkah and donate it to help with 15-year-old Ethan's ongoing medical expenses.
Ethan's parents, Scott and Alexia Kadish, and his younger sister, Elyse, wheeled him into Rockdale Chapel for a special menorah lighting at the event.
Elyse lit the candle on a traditional menorah while Alexia Kadish held a large yellow button near Ethan's head so he could lean into it and light an electric menorah nearby.
Rabbi Meredith Kahan played guitar and sang Hanukkah songs as Ethan listened.
When it came time for Scott and Alexia Kadish to thank the dozens of friends and supporters in attendance – and the hundreds more who were watching remotely – Elyse stood with Ethan as everyone listened.
"2015 was not a great year for Ethan," Scott Kadish said, noting that his son was admitted to the hospital seven times over the past year for a total of 80 days.
Since he was injured on June 29, 2013, Ethan has spent more than 300 days in the hospital.
Ethan's medical care and therapies cost more than $1 million per year, Scott Kadish added, and more than $150,000 of that cost is uninsured and uncovered, making fundraisers such as Eighth Night for Ethan all the more important.
"We have been touched by so much good that helps lift us each day," Scott Kadish said.
Alexia Kadish reflected upon the community prayer service held at Rockdale Temple just days after Ethan was hurt. She and her husband watched on a computer from Indianapolis where Ethan was in the hospital fighting to survive.
The miracle of the love the Kadish family felt that night is much like the ancient miracle of the day's worth of oil that kept the menorah lit for all eight nights of Hanukkah, she said.
"The light and energy have continued to fill our hearts with love and support two and a half years later," Alexia Kadish said.
The Kadish family prays that one day Ethan won't need all the money raised in his name, Alexia Kadish said, and that he can help earmark it for other deserving families and causes.
With that, Ethan moaned a happy sound and smiled, and Rabbi Sissy Coran said, "That means thank you."
The crowd applauded, the songs continued until the celebration was over and a group of Ethan's former classmates gathered around him for a group photo.
To help fund the hundreds of thousands of dollars of ongoing care for Ethan each year that isn't covered by insurance, go to http://jointeamethan.org.
WCPO reporter Lucy May and WCPO photojournalist Emily Maxwell are following the progress of Ethan Kadish as he continues to recover from being struck by lightning on June 29, 2013.
To read more about Ethan's journey, go to www.wcpo.com/ethankadish.