Feel-Good Friday: A 13-Year Old Uses His Make-a-Wish Grant to Feed the Homeless for a Year

Feel-Good Friday: A 13-Year Old Uses His Make-a-Wish Grant to Feed the Homeless for a Year
Abraham Olagbegi Feeds the Homeless in Jackson (Credit: CBS News)

A small boy with a big name: Adeola “Abraham” Olagbegi, received a life-saving gift of a bone marrow transplant. Then Abraham turned around and paid that gift forward with life-saving resources for the homeless in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.

Thus begins our Feel-Good Friday story.

From CBS News:

Last year, 13-year-old Abraham Olagbegi found out he was born with a rare blood disorder and needed a bone marrow transplant. About a year later, he found out better news: His transplant was successful, and he qualified for Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants wishes to children will serious illnesses.

Abraham’s rare blood disorder is called, “aplastic anemia,” where the body does not produce enough new blood cells. The result is fatigue, and increased danger of infection and hemophilia.

In a profile of Abraham from Jackson’s local WLBT News, we learned Abraham was diagnosed in June of 2020, and received his bone marrow transplant in November of 2020.

Abraham told WLBT that,

“I had my transplant 10 months ago in November 2020, so I am doing good.”

To put it in context, here are the sobering facts on bone marrow donations from the Institute for Justice:

  • This year, more than 130,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a serious blood disease.
  • Leukemia (a blood cancer) will strike 44,000 Americans this year, including 3,500 children.  It will kill about half of the adults and about 700 of the children.
  • Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.
  • Only 30 percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant have a matching donor in their families.
  • The remaining 70 percent must hope that a compatible stranger can be found using the national registry.
  • At any given time, about 7,500 Americans are actively searching the national registry for an unrelated donor.
  • Only 2 percent of population is on the national registry.
  • A significant number of those on the national bone marrow registry cannot be located or will not donate when asked to do so.  The percentages of donors who are available and willing are:  65 for Caucasians; 47 percent for Hispanics; 44 percent for Asians; 34 percent for African-Americans.
  • African-American patients find an unrelated donor 25 percent of the time.
  • If an African-American finds a match on the registry, there is an 80 percent chance that the identified donor is the only match on the registry.

So the fact that Abraham was able to locate a donor and receive his transplant in the same year, is nothing short of a miracle.

Abraham told WLBT the genesis of his Make-A-Wish idea:

[T]he 13-year-old and his family would feed the homeless every month to make sure they had a hot meal before he was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

“It was always a good thing to do, and that’s what I grew up doing that.

So, I go back to my roots to do what I was taught to do,” Adeola ‘Abraham’ Olagbegi said.

His mother Miriam Olagberi and Abraham gave an even fuller story to CBS. Abraham had an idea not just for one wish, but a long-lasting wish. He decided to share this with Miriam.

“I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and he said, ‘Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,'”

Abraham’s mom, Miriam Olagbegi, told CBS News. “I said, ‘Are you sure Abraham? You could do a lot … You sure you don’t want a PlayStation?'”

Unlike many teenage boys, the PlayStation did not entice Abraham. He was sure of his wish to feed the homeless.

Abraham’s dad thought it was an awesome idea, too, Miriam said. “So, of course, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity like that because we always tried to instill giving into our children.”

Bravo to Miriam Olagbegi, who not only planted the seeds in her children to give to others, but encouraged the manner in which Abraham manifested his wish to give back. In a world where selfish and even craven young people are on full display via TikTok and other social media, it is beautiful that this young man, who had suffered much, wanted to ease others suffering.

In September, Make-A-Wish helped Abraham organize a day to hand out free food in Jackson, Mississippi, with food and supplies donated from local businesses. Abraham said they ended up feeding about 80 people that day.

But Abraham’s wish wasn’t complete. Make-A-Wish has made the commitment to help Abraham feed Jackson’s homeless until August 2022! Linda Sermons of the Make-A-Wish Mississippi chapter said that this is the first philanthropic gift in their 20-plus years of being in the state.

Abraham expressed his huge heart, and huge faith with these words:

“I am a person of hope, so when you come against a big mountain, you have to remember you have a big God,” Adeola ‘Abraham’ Olagbegi said.

“It is just a blessing to see people getting fed. When I leave, I am going to feel joyful.”

May the world produce more mothers like Miriam Olagbegi who raise children like Adeola “Abraham” Olagbegi.

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