Elias Everett lives in Seward, about 120 miles south of Anchorage. What makes him different from most 13-year-olds is that he has cerebral palsy and is on the autism spectrum. What also makes him different is his utter fascination with all things elevators..
When a request for Otis swag for Elias reached Mike Liebing, branch manager of the Anchorage office, Liebing contacted Christy Everett Jordan, Elias’ mom, and invited them on a “field trip” to the Anchorage International Airport to tour and check out Otis products the day after Elias’ birthday. Everett Jordan told Elias that to celebrate his birthday, he could take Friday off from school to visit his grandparents in Anchorage. While there, she said they could go to the airport and ride some elevators, something they had done on occasion when the family lived in Anchorage previously. The tour was a surprise.
“The airport was very accommodating and agreed to let Elias tour our equipment onsite,” Liebing said. “Our office’s stand-by mechanics, Mike Floyd and Dave Morris, took on this project with real enthusiasm. Together, we came up with a tour route that would be exciting and interesting to Elias.”
When the family arrived at the airport, Liebing said it was clear that Elias was “all in” and thoroughly enjoying the experience. “We started by looking at a major elevator in the main terminal hall which is in a glass hoistway,” he said. “We explained how it operated and allowed him to look up in the top of the shaft and see the equipment on the car top. He knew quite a bit about elevators and asked some terrific questions. From there, we took him to one of the hydraulic freight elevators and showed him the pit equipment. He knew about some parts of the system and was fascinated to see it first-hand. The last stop was to an escalator that the crew had set up for him to view the upper and lower truss and watch how the steps made the turn at the bottom.”
After the tour, Elias received birthday gifts from the company and Local 19 of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. Gifts included a Local 19 sweat shirt embroidered with his name, a window sticker and an official “union membership card,” as well as an Otis cap, flashlight, water bottle, a parts poster, and an “official elevator expert” certificate.
Liebing received a note from Elias’ mom soon after his visit. She said he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was and how he went off to school proudly wearing his cap and sweat shirt. “I cannot think of a better Friday afternoon I’ve had in many years,” Liebing said. “We were completely lifted up by this young man’s zest for life and his purely positive attitude.”
Elias’ mom has a blog about Elias and his journey. In it, she wrote:
“Ever since he could speak and move on his own, he has been fascinated by elevators. Perhaps, in part, because he couldn't walk without assistance; and stairs were not possible for his first ambulatory years, as Elias rolled with a walker, usually the destiny of aging seniors, not pre-schoolers.”
To learn more about Elias and his visit with Otis, visit Christy Everett Jordan’s blog at: http://www.followingelias.com/2017/02/elias-otis-and-the-elevator-construction-union.html