Chick-fil-A opened on Sunday so 14-year-old with special needs could celebrate birthday

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

An Alabama Chick-fil-A opened on Sunday – something the popular fast food chain normally doesn't do – so a 14-year-old boy with special needs could celebrate his birthday.

Elijah Sprague is autistic and has cerebral palsy, and his dream is to work in a drive-through. So his family pulled a few strings and the Chick-fil-A in Mobile let Elijah work there for his birthday.

"My brother, [Elijah's] uncle, is one of the managers at the local Chick-fil-A," Rene Sprague told CBS News. Chick-fil-A is one of Elijah's favorite places and they visit his uncle there often.

Her brother didn't know what the restaurant's owner would say about opening on a Sunday, but when he heard it was for Elijah, he said yes, without a doubt.

"He was like, 'Why are you evening asking? Absolutely, we have to do it,'" Sprague said.

The restaurant opened on Sunday and the staff prepared cookies for Elijah to hand out. "He loves drive-through windows," Sprague said. Elijah got to sit at the drive-through window and hand out cookies to about 40 friends that came by for the special day. After all the cars went through the drive-through – some of them twice – Eljiah and his friends got to play inside the Chick-fil-A and eat dessert.

14-year-old Eljiah Sprague, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, fulfilled his dream of working in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru on his birthday. Rene Sprague

"He knew every single person who came through," Sprague said. "He was chucking cookies out the window. He thought it was hilarious and he was talking to everybody."

Elijah was born 18 weeks premature and has limited speech, his mom said. She is a nurse who worked at the NICU where Elijah was treated as a newborn. The Spragues adopted Elijah when he was six months old and were told he would only live about a year. He has far exceeded his life expectancy and has brought happiness to the family's life every day.

"This is super special to us," Sprague said. "Elijah's not going to graduate like our other kids. He's not going to get married or have kids. So this is just a really cool experience to us for him to have this level of attention… it's neat for people to recognize he's a really cool kid."

Sprague says Elijah's abilities far outweigh his disabilities, and she is happy his story can help inspire others with special needs. "The community needs to realize this is a really special population of kids," she said. "They do have special needs, but they have so much to offer."

First published on January 15, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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