Kids! of the Month
Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!
month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing
things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire
other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Kid! of the Month for February, 2009:
“When I was sick, I thought I'd never want to be involved with anything that had to do with cancer; but once I saw the look on kids' faces when we handed out the gifts [in children's hospitals], I knew I wanted to keep doing it.”
Nicholas Marriam, Age 15
“Just to know there is someone out there caring for them — it means a whole lot to the kids and the parents.”
Shelby McKnew, Age 14
Our February 2009 Amazing Kids! of the Month:
Thousands of children around the world are hospitalized each year due to a variety of illnesses. In addition to the debilitating effects of the disease and the related treatment, these children often feel lonely and isolated as they are unable to attend school, meet friends and do the other regular activities that most of us take for granted.
Nicholas Marriam was one such kid, having successfully fought a battle with cancer after being diagnosed at the age of six. Once he got better, he wanted to do something to help other kids going through similar experiences in hospitals across America. So, together with his cousin Shelby McKnew, he started the Nickelby Project, bringing smiles to sick children in hospitals by visiting them and giving them gift bags filled with toys and other goodies to brighten their lives.
Read more below about Amazing Nick and Amazing Shelby and be inspired to find a way that you can make a difference in 2009 and beyond!
Don't forget: If you, or a young person
(or persons!) you know, has an
amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill,
ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids!
know about it! Simply complete our
Amazing Kids! of the Month award online
form, visit our AKOM nomination information page
Table of Contents
Meet Nicholas and Shelby- Amazing Cousins with a Big Heart
Nicholas Marriam of Clayton, North Carolina, knows first hand how it is to be sick for long periods of time. He was only six years old when he suddenly had trouble breathing, complained of stomach aches and got tired easily. His parents, Angel and Fred, took him to Anne Arundel Medical Center where he was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma. For the next two years, Nick and his parents endured chemotherapy, spinal taps, shots and pills. He was in the hospital so much that he missed two entire years of school and was very lonely while in the hospital. When he was home, he couldn't get out much or have many visitors while he was healing.
A couple of incidents during this time made a lasting impression on Nick. "He remembered," says his mom, Angel, "that when a friend of mine brought me a gift basket containing soap and shampoo, I cried."
“I thought, 'Boy, a simple bag of stuff can sure make somebody happy,’” says Nick of the incident.
As his health improved, Nick attended a camp for children with cancer and there he learned of the Make Difference Day - the fourth Saturday of October each year, set aside for people to do nice things for other people. Nick returned from the camp with a mission: With the help of his mother, his third-grade class, employees at Coca-Cola, TGI Friday's and the Washington Capitals hockey team, to name a few, he gathered $7,500 in supplies, enough for 166 gift bags with toiletries, gift certificates, disposable cameras, movie passes, hockey tickets and pizza coupons.
"On the way to the hospital," Nick says, "the whole entire back of the van and the middle of the van were stacked full of stuff. It was like there was a tornado of Make A Difference Day bags!" he says.
"I see a little bit of me inside of them," Nick says. "[When I was sick], I was very isolated and I couldn't talk to any of my friends. It was very tough."
Motivated by his own illness, Nicholas joined his cousin Shelby who lives in Maryland and started the Nickelby Project, to deliver a little hope and smiles to hospitalized children. Apart from providing gift bags to help ease the worries and fears of children with a chronic or life threatening illness and providing hospital and educational support, the Nickelby Project also gives away scholarships to childhood cancer survivors going to college or secondary school in any field of study. They also have another scholarship that is designed for adults who plan to go into a Pediatric Oncology field of study.
“Just to know there is someone out there caring for them — it means a whole lot to the kids and the parents,” said Shelby.
Nick and Shelby work hard on their project. They conducts fundraisers, write grant proposals, shops and then assembles and delivers gift bags to pediatric wards at hospitals in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. It's their way of bringing hope and encouragement to others battling serious illnesses.
Awards, Recognition and Dreams for an Amazing Future
“People find hope in Nick,” says Shelby’s mom, Sheila, “because he was in that position, and look at him now — with a full head of hair and able to talk and hug other kids.”
Nick, Shelby and their project has won its share of awards and recognition. In 2002, they won the National $10,000 Make a Difference Day Award funded by the Paul Newman Foundation. You can read about this special honor on the USAWeekend.com website at: www.usaweekend.com/diffday/honorees/2002/020421mdday.html#giving
Last year, in 2008, Nick was “floored” to learn that Nickelby was awarded a $10,000 grant from McDonald’s for their gift bag program. Nick commented:
“Shelby and I are having huge fun making this money work and last to touch as many kids as we can. It is a great surprise and lessens the tension of the summer we usually have, trying to find support for the upcoming year.”
Last summer, 2008, now former President George W. Bush took notice of Nick's spirit of volunteerism by awarding the Clayton teenager the President's Volunteer Service Award.
"Five years ago, when I was sick, I never thought I'd meet the president," Nick says. "I never thought about that."
Nick was invited by Wayne Brady, host of the Emmy-winning "Wayne Brady Show" to appear on his show. Wayne Brady was so impressed by Nick's work, he said:
Nick and Shelby dream of being able to reach children’s wards in hospitals in every state in the U.S. However, continuing to keep their foundation running to help even more sick children is a constant challenge. While they continue to receive donated items to stuff in the bags they donate to the children in the pediatric wards of hospitals, the foundation often still much pay for the shipping costs, which can add up. What more, they will continue to need donated items on an ongoing basis, to fill the 250 bags which the foundation gives to each hospital visited. Trying to find items that interest all age groups, including teenagers, can also be a challenge.
Despite these challenges, Nick and Shelby are determined to meet their goal of expanding their donations to include hospitals in every state. If you would like to help Nick and Shelby launch their dream of reaching hospitals in every state in the U.S., you can contribute to their amazing cause by visiting the Nickelby Project foundation’s donation page on their website at: www.nickelbyproject.org/Donation.htm
For all those who have already donated and plan to continue their support, Nick expressed his deep appreciation in a recent email he sent to supporters:
Amazing Kids! wishes Amazing Nick and Amazing Shelby continued success in their important work, bringing hope, smiles and joy to sick children in hospitals across America!
To learn more about Shelby and Nick's amazing work, and to get involved or make a donation to the Nickelby Project, visit the Nickelby Project website: http://www.nickelbyproject.org
Learn more about, and get involved in, USA Today's Make a Difference Day, happening this year on October 24, 2009: http://www.usaweekend.com/diffday/index.html
It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered. (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!)
If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it! Tell us about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are! We are always looking for new stories. And don't be shy! We'd love to hear from you!
WHY NOT HELP OTHERS SEE THEIR OWN POTENTIAL?
If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them? Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talent.Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors. If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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