Elijah was born and raised in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. Growing up with patriotic values, he was inspired to enlist in the Air Force as a high school senior right after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Military service taught Elijah the values of order, discipline, and selfless service that have stayed with him throughout his life.
After 6 years in the Air Force, and receiving commendations ranging from marksman to Maintenance Professional of The Year, Elijah was honorably discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He moved back to Southwest Virginia to start a family-owned small business. After a decade of his wise leadership, the business has grown from one location to three with facilities in Lebanon, Oakwood, and Cedar Bluff.
In 2017, with the birth of their second child Ruby Kate, came devastating news that their child was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease that required a stem cell bone marrow transplant to save her life. Despite being residents of southwest Virginia, Ruby was born in Tennessee. Luckily, the State of Tennessee started screening for Ruby’s rare disorder only 12 days before she was born. In true southwest Virginia tradition, the surrounding communities rallied around “Ruby Kate’s Fight” to support and encourage the Leonard Family. Elijah knew it was time to fight for children born in Virginia. Motivated by what someone else had done for Tennessee’s children, the Leonard family was determined to bring purpose from their pain. Through hard work and dedication, Elijah met with Virginia state legislators to help organize Senate Bill 449 and House Bill 1174. The two bills nearly doubled the number of newborn screenings for infants in Virginia. On July 1, 2018, Ruby Kate’s bill was passed into law. Ruby Kate’s Law will now automatically screen for MPS1 and several other rare genetic disorders.
Wanting to give back to his community that had given him so much, Elijah ran for Lebanon Town Council in the spring of 2020. Despite having never ran for office before he garnered the most votes in a field of five candidates. Bringing one the Air Force’s core values of “Service Before Self” into office, Elijah has dedicated himself to going above and beyond in the service of his community.