Eli, a first-grader at Deer Meadow Elementary, was struck by a car in the parking lot of Big Walnut Sports Park. It appears he darted between parked cars and into the path of an oncoming car while chasing a stray soccer ball.
Eli sustained head trauma and was airlifted from the accident scene to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Initially in critical condition, a hospital spokesperson said Sunday evening that Eli was listed as stable.
"He was pretty quiet all day long, but he's been trying to crack his eyes open a little bit, and he also moved his arm" Eli's father, James "Figgy" Hardwick, said in a phone interview from Riley.
It is simple things that give Hardwick and Eli's mother, Laurie, hope that things are improving.
"I just can't tell you what it's like," Hardwick said, choking up. "All I want to see is my boy's eyes."
Hardwick believes his son, who is intubated and usually heavily medicated, is becoming frustrated with the pace of his recovery.
"He kind of grimaces," Hardwick said. "There is a sadness in his face. He's trying to open his eyes ... he wants to ... but he can't."
Hardwick knows his son is aware of what is going on around him, because the two engaged in "thumb wars" -- and Eli responded.
"He knew what he was doing," Hardwick said. "It didn't happen just once. I made sure other people were in the room and saw it."
Eli is battling a slight case of pneumonia, but is being treated with antibiotics. Being on a ventilator causes a person to take shallow breaths, and often leads to pneumonia.
Eli is scheduled to have an MRI today. His brain pressure numbers have decreased enough that the bolt that keeps track of them will likely be taken out soon.
"Realistically, we're thinking it may be Monday or Tuesday before he gets off the respirator," Harwick said.
Big Walnut Sports Park is owned by an association and maintained by the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Association.
The park is utilized by the Putnam County Youth Soccer Association. Goals are set up throughout the park grounds, and several of them are directly adjacent to the park's parking lot.
The day after the accident, a group of volunteers erected temporary fencing to create a barrier between the soccer fields and the parking lot.
"The Indiana Youth Soccer Association says there are hundreds of fields like this all over the country," said Pedar Foss, president of PCYS. "It's nothing different. But I would like us to do better."
Adam Cohen, president of the Big Walnut Sports Park Association, agreed.
"I think any time you have an accident, you need to sit down and evaluate it," he said. "The fencing that has been put up is a temporary solution right now, but I believe it will lead to a more permanent fix down the line. We will do whatever we can to improve on it."
Hardwick said he and his wife have been "overwhelmed ... just overwhelmed" by the amount of support they have received from the community.
A site for Eli on which the Hardwicks post frequent updates has been set up at caringbridge.org/visit/elihardwick. Dozens of messages of love and encouragement are left on the site daily.
"It's been unbelievable," Hardwick said. "It's just awesome. My whole idea of everything ... my whole perspective on life ... it's all been changed by what's happened to Eli and the outpouring of love we've received. It's what's carried Laurie and me through. We look forward each day to reading the messages."
Hardwick is also amazed by how far and how quickly the story of Eli's accident spread.
"He's on a prayer list in London," he said.
Hardwick expressed his and his wife's sympathies for the person who was driving the car that struck their son.
"We've spoken to her spouse, and we just want to reassure them that we know it could have been any of us at any time," Hardwick said. "Our hearts just break for that person."
The Hardwicks have been staying at Ronald McDonald House, a charity that provides accommodations for families with children in hospitals, near Riley.
Ronald McDonald Houses are funded largely by donations from boxes at McDonald's restaurants. There are collections boxes under drive-through windows where customers can deposit their change.
"I will never take my change back at McDonald's again," Hardwick said. "They are just so loving and giving. They feed us three times a day; we can take showers and they have beds for us. All for absolutely nothing."
Hardwick continually reiterated his and his wife's gratitude for all the support they have gotten since Eli's accident.
"Keep the love coming," he said. "We feel it."