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KUNA -- It's been a tough year for the Kuna football team as the community worried about two players with serious health issues.

Last year, Boone Bartlome broke his neck in a playoff game. We showed you a couple of weeks ago the progress he's making to walk again.

But one of Boone's teammates suffered a setback, too.

Junior Elijah Minnick enjoys suiting up for the Kuna Kavemen. He plays left tackle, right alongside his twin brother, Jonah who plays left guard.

Elijah had been looking forward to making a big impact on the football field during his senior year, but late last year, right around Christmas, he was hit with a huge obstacle.

ELIJAH MINNICK'S BATTLE

In December of 2013, Elijah Minnick got very sick.

I knew it was going to kill me, whatever was in me, Minnick said.

He told us the sickness started as Strep A, but then got much worse. That's when he turned to his mother for help.

Mom, something's up with me. I don't know what's going on. I'm feeling sick and hyperventilating. I'm breathing really hard. I feel this pain in my chest and back. I don't know what's going on, he said.

Elijah's twin brother, Jonah, says he could tell something wasn't right. He knew it was too much for Elijah's body to handle.

That's when we decided to take him to the ER, Jonah said.

WHEN YOU LOOKED AT HIM, YOU KNEW DEATH WAS PRETTY MUCH IMMINENT

Dr. Derrick Dauplaise was working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit the night Elijah was admitted to St. Luke's.

When you looked at him, you knew that death was pretty much imminent, Dauplaise said. He was completely purple.

The bacterial infection had overwhelmed Elijah's body. He was experiencing multiple system organ failure.

His body was having such a response to it that he was shutting down every organ because his heart was failing and his lungs were failing, Dauplaise said.

It was a scary time for Elijah's family, including his mother, Karen Minnick.

The first night we were at the hospital, Dr. Derrick said that we needed to have guarded hope because they didn't know if he was going to make it, she said.

Elijah's twin brother, Jonah, wouldn't leave his side. He held Elijah's hand for the first 36 hours at St. Luke's.

I knew if I was in that position, he'd be there for me, said Jonah. I was scared that I was going to lose Elijah.

Elijah's organs were shutting down. His doctors and nurses gave him everything they could to fight the infection.

The only thing you can do is support every system and get it through the transition, Dauplaise said. A lot of this you have to be patient with.

Meanwhile, his parents prayed and put his life in God's hands.

At that moment, you have to. You're not in control of everything. You have to give your kids to the Lord. You have to trust that He's good and everything's going to be OK no matter what happens, Karen Minnick said.

Finally, after 12 agonizing hours, Elijah's body stopped its rapid decline.

FIGHTING BACK

As his body started to fight back against the infection, Elijah gained more awareness, too.

I could hear people talking to me, I could feel people touching me, he said.

Elijah stayed at St. Luke's for weeks recovering. He says it didn't take long for his thoughts to turn to football.

There were times when I thought, you know, am I ever going to be able to play football with Jonah again my senior year? Am I ever going to be able to work out again, exercise? he said.

Elijah's motivation to get back on the football field has helped him overcome many obstacles. His doctors say his recovery is a miracle.

To see Elijah running and communicating and sharing his story, it's a beautiful thing, Dauplaise said.

Elijah and his family visited the Kuna High School football field recently. He hopes to suit up and eventually play during his senior season.

I can't wait to play. It's going to be very emotional being back out here that first game, said Elijah.

Doctors told us Elijah has come a long way, but he is still gaining his strength back. They believe a surgery last year to remove Elijah's appendix may have weakened his immune system, contributing to the severity of the infection. They're optimistic he will make a full recovery, but because of the infection and resulting treatment at the hospital, he could see some long-term effects.

Despite all he's been through, Elijah says he's thankful for his life and for the community that has supported him through this tough time.

Just seeing the support we've got, seeing all the people, how much love we have for each other in this community. I wouldn't want to be a part of any other community, he said.

Elijah is planning on taking the field for the Kuna Kavemen's first game alongside Boone Bartlome. He hopes the doctors and nurses at St. Luke's who helped save his life will be there, too.

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