Staff at the Christiansburg Aquatics Center is sharing a story of wrong that went right this Christmas season. 7-year-old Eli Roark of Pulaski loves to visit to the pool, splashing around with other children his age. One day this fall, he was playing in the leisure pool when he showed his mother a picture he had drawn on the concrete wall next to the water.
At first, he didn’t realize his artwork of he and his mother holding hands in the middle of a heart was something that shouldn’t have been done. His mother pointed out the wrong, and the two told a CAC staffer who tried unsuccessfully to remove the art.
The family would leave, but did not forget what had happened. His mother, Lynne Roark, continued to explain the drawing was nice but wrong, especially with it being done on a wall at a public place.
Lynne Roark said the boy realized he shouldn’t have written on the wall.
Earlier this month Terry Caldwell, the director of the CAC, received a letter from Eli. It read: “I am the little boy that wrote on the wall in the pool area. I am sorry for writing on the wall. I am going to pay you back with my money. I am so sorry I wrote on the wall. Will you forgive me for writing on the wall? Signed: Eli Roark.”
Two $5 bills were attached. The youngster had sold some of his toys to find the money to send to the aquatics center.
“I really didn’t expect it and at first didn’t know how to respond,” Caldwell said. But without hesitation, she decided to return his money and thank him for his honesty.
Wednesday, Caldwell and her staff along with Christiansburg Mayor Michael Barber met Eli and his parents. The first thing Caldwell did was hand him the $10.
“I felt it was the right thing to do. He is so honest and said he was sorry,” she said.
Barber said the child did the right thing by coming forward.
His mother was proud of him too. “This is something he will remember for the rest of his life,” she said.
Caldwell hopes the child’s honesty will not go overlooked and will serve as an example for other children to follow.
For now, the 7-year-old hopes to continue to swim at the local pool and never write on the wall again. A Christmas lesson he won’t forget.