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'It's a miracle': Northside High School student returns to baseball after brain tumor

17-year-old Eli Klepper had surgery in August

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A Northside High School student is recovering faster than expected a couple of months after two surgeries to remove a brain tumor.

10 News first introduced you to 17-year-old Eli Klepper in September. At the time, his parents wouldn't even let him walk down the stairs on his own.

"I was concerned. Is everything going to come back?" said Willie Klepper, Eli’s dad.

Now Eli’s doing school work at home, physical therapy twice a week and most importantly, he’s back to his true love -- baseball.

His therapists cleared him to play a couple of weeks ago, so he started practicing. It’s a sight his father feared he might never see again. During his first surgery, Eli temporarily lost motor skills on his right side, raising concerns about his strength and movement. When he grabbed the glove a couple of weeks ago, he said it felt right.

"Everything started feeling normal again," Eli said.

"It was almost overwhelming," Willie said. "It was very humbling. It was relieving. Hey, he's going to make it back."

While slow and steady, Eli's journey has moved faster than expected and he’s had endless community support all along the way, including from other schools.

"You wouldn't expect something like that from a rival school," Eli said.

William Byrd's student section put differences aside at Friday’s football game at Northside High School with a special sign, saying “Terriers support #EliStrong.”

"I about lost it at that point. To think that a rival school came together collectively to do that was awesome," Willie said.

As the stitches heal, Eli's turning his focus to pitches.

"Just to know that after everything you've been through you can still push through it and do what you want to do," Eli said.

"When you think of what could've been compared to where we are now, it truly is amazing. I mean it's a miracle," Willie said.

Eli's doctor wrote him a note to keep him out of school for a year post-surgery, but now he could return to school for half days after Thanksgiving.


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