HORACE, N.D. — On Thursday, Aug. 8, it was a pretty typical scene at a construction site in Horace, just south of Fargo — with one exception.

One of the workers seemed to be a little younger than average.

As a way for Elias Schiele to get away from chemotherapy, the truck and bulldozer fan got a taste of the real thing.

It started a few weeks ago when Tiffany Schiele noticed something was off with her son.

"He started losing energy. It's abnormal for him, he's kind of a kid that likes to play," she explained. "He'd have friends over, and he wouldn't be able to play with them, so we knew something was wrong."

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Elias was diagnosed with leukemia just days ago, and after the long drive from Minot to Fargo, he immediately began treatment at Sanford's Roger Maris Cancer Center.

But just days after the diagnosis, Elias got quite the opportunity.

Elias Schiele
Elias Schiele

Construction company General Equipment gave Elias a chance to operate real heavy machinery. Mitch Strehlow with the company sat with Elias, watching the third grader do all the work.

"We just started running off the GPS because we wanted to see how big of a pile we could make and how much dirt we could push, so I just showed him how to make the blade go up and down and how to make the machine go forward and backward and I let him take the controls," Strehlow said.

For those at General Equipment, it gave them a little perspective. Elias is 8 and life just threw him a curveball. If driving a bulldozer makes his day, why not let him?

"(We) let every kid do what they want to do, and that's play in the dirt," Strehlow said.

Elias' big brother Andy and little sister Annabelle, also got a chance to do a little dirty work, and a chance to support a sibling on a memorable day on a very special playground.

There will be a benefit for Elias in Lignite, N.D. "Team Elias" will also be throwing a big benefit Sunday, Aug. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lignite Community Center.