When Sgt. First Class Dave Sivewright goes for a run along U.S. 2 with his four-foot by six-foot American flag, people usually honk and wave. Sometimes they even stop and snap pictures.
But that wasn’t quite enough for 8-year-old Tyee Eliason.
When Tyee, who lives in Gold Bar with his father, William Eliason, met Sivewright at the Sultan Boys and Girls Club a little over a year ago, he was immediately impressed. So impressed, that after learning about Sivewright’s military service and his adventures as the Hwy 2 Freedom Runner, Eliason decided that he wanted to run with an American flag, too.
“When he met Dave and saw what Dave does and what Dave stands for; that was a turning point for him,” said his father William.
Wanting to support his son, he promptly set out to acquire a flag for him. With a little help from the folks at Thrifty 4 You, a second-hand store located in downtown Sultan, he soon had one.
Tyee can often be seen running down Lewis Street in Gold Bar and occasionally runs through downtown Sultan, as well. He has worked his way up in distance and is currently running approximately a mile every day. His reason for running with the American flag is strikingly similar to Sivewright’s.
“I just want to honor my country,” said Tyee. “It’s a good country.”
He marched with his flag in Sultan’s Shindig parade, and recently marched with Sivewright during the National Night Out parade in Gold Bar. He has participated in other events, as well.
“I have had the pleasure to not only meet this young man but walk with him back in December when we carried our flags from First Street (in Sultan) to City Hall and back,” said Sivewright. “He is just a shining example of our youth here in the Sky Valley that we can be all proud of.”
William, who is raising Tyee on his own, moved to Gold Bar from South Everett about three years ago. Tyee will be starting the third grade at Gold Bar Elementary School in September where he enjoys recess, lunch, and of course, physical education. An avid reader, Tyee currently reads at a 5th grade level; an accomplishment that both he and his father are proud of.
When Tyee was younger, he was diagnosed with a disability known as speech delay.
“Because of his disability we got him into preschool early,” said William, who also began working with his son one-on-one, utilizing the same methods as his son’s speech therapists.
His father shared that, as a result of a lot of hard work and dedication, Tyee currently has no difficulty whatsoever communicating verbally, and spends at least two hours a day reading books.
“He pushes himself,” said William.
“Actually, I’m reading at like a 6th grade level, because I can read a ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid book,’” said Tyee, referring to a popular series of children’s books.
He also enjoys books from the adventure series “The 39 Clues.”
Tyee enjoys running with his American flag, and with his long hair and slight 8-year-old stature, he makes a distinctive image. His father explained that his hair is being kept long due to his Native American heritage; William and Tyee are members of the Chiricahua Apache Tribe.
“It’s tradition that the first born son grows out his hair until he’s 15,” said William. “Until he goes through ceremony and then he can choose his own path.”
William shared that the name Tyee, in Apache, means Chief.
“It was the strongest name I could give him,” said William.
Eventually, the two hope to move to Minnesota where Tyee would like to pursue a career in wrestling. Minnesota is known for being a prominent wrestling state with one of the nation’s top high school programs, as well as one of the nation’s top collegiate programs.
“Some of the best wrestlers in the country have come from Minnesota,” said William. “And I can get work there.”
William stated his main goal is to support his son’s endeavors as much as he possibly can.
“Tyee wants to be an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling,” he continued. “That’s his goal; to represent his country.”
Now, with his son’s newfound interest in Sivewright, he finds himself wondering if Tyee will one day become interested in enlisting in the military. Whatever Tyee’s decision, William is planning on supporting him as best he can.
William describes his son as an “old soul” who enjoys listening to jazz, as well as the music of Elvis, Johnny Cash and James Brown. Musically inclined himself, in addition to playing the flute and the guitar, Tyee also writes his own music.
He also enjoys classic cars and riding motorcycles and is eventually hoping to take up dirt-biking.
William explained that the two have worked out an arrangement. As long as Tyee stays diligent with his school work, on top of his curriculum and dedicated to his wrestling goals, he’ll do his best to support any additional hobbies that his son wishes to try.
He’s proud of his son’s individuality and his patriotism. When Tyee asked him to prop an American flag up in the back of his truck, he obliged.
“He said he wanted a flag in my truck,” said William. “That’s not me; that’s not something I would ever do.”
The Hwy 2 Freedom Runner seems to have had a lasting influence on Tyee.
Sivewright shared that it means a lot to him to have such a remarkable young man understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Sivewright’s fiancé, Christina Nelson, is acquainted with Tyee’s father through work and has been greatly impressed by Tyee, as well.
“I witnessed this instantaneous bond from the first moment Dave and Tyee met,” said Nelson. “The American flag was the conduit that united their kindred spirits of patriotism. Tyee is an amazing young man!”