First, there was Mariah Aquino, well-known for being the face of Mariah’s Movers, an organization the 10-year from Beaver Falls/Patterson Heights founded in order to bring awareness to juvenile arthritis (JA), an incurable disease she was diagnosed with at age 5. When a walk-in tub, recommended by doctors, was out of her mom’s financial means, she and dozens of her friends sent nominations to Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. to see about getting her a free tub via Safe Step Cares, the company’s national program of giving.
One of those who nominated Mariah was Jaime Jones, who diagnosed Mariah based on her experience with her own son, 12-year-old Noah, who also has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). She felt that the company would probably only provide one tub and felt Mariah was deserving. She attended the tub presentation for Mariah, where she and Noah met Safe Step personnel. Fighting back tears, she told them how a tub would also help Noah.
Fifty of her friends agreed and the area AGAIN took their case online and nominated Noah more than 50 times, telling actual stories about how Noah and his family have raised nearly $30,000 to bring awareness to JRA. It was a great story though, according to Safe Step Cares coordinator Derek Farley, the decision had already been made.
“Imagine the selflessness involved when a mother nominates someone else’s child facing the same daily challenges of JRA as her own,” said Farley. “When we met Jaime at Mariah’s donation, she was reluctant to even comment on Noah, saying ‘this is about Mariah, not us.’ That’s when we knew that Noah was going to receive his tub too.”
Farley and other key Safe Step Cares representatives flew to Pittsburgh to deliver the early Christmas present to the Ellwood City youngster and his family. The tub was wrapped in green with a big red bow on top. The green wrapping is comprised of printouts of all of the nominations Noah received.
All of his nominators were invited to the delivery, including Mariah and her mother Tory, who reciprocated her daughter’s good fortune by nominating Noah herself.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than to present our life-changing gift to a very deserving young man who is battling this disease every day,” said Duffer. “It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. We look forward to sending Christmas early to Noah and his family.”