Nathanial’s last wish: Raise money for Meredith’s Miracles, help others

Published 1:50 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

Meredith’s Miracles has had a year full of milestones, from helping its 1,050th family to expanding statewide, but one little boy touched the heart of the executive director with a altruistic choice for his “last wish.”


Executive Director Emily Yehling said she became good friends with Nathanial Solomon immediately after his mother, Heather Corbin, came to visit Meredith’s Miracles in April 2013.

“Nathanial has been diagnosed with leukemia, and his Aunt Mary had come to Harold’s to ask if Meredith’s Miracles could help her great-nephew and his family,” Yehling said. “Without hesitation, June (Simpson) and I said, ‘yes,’ and I went back to the office with Mary.”

Yehling said finances had become difficult for Nathaniel’s family.

“Heather had to give up her new job in order to take care of Nathanial and to drive him back and forth to Birmingham for treatment,” she said. “As time and the treatments wore on, Heather would bring Nathanial with her to pick up the assistance we were providing. He and I just got closer and closer. This wonderful little boy and his infectious smile won my heart.”

Yehling said no matter what was going on with Nathanial, he always had a smile to share.

“Treatments, bone marrow transplants, ports in and ports out – he always had a smile,” she said. “Sometimes, from behind a mask, he would wear to help keep from catching a germ, you could still catch the same infectious smile.”

Yehling said Nathanial’s leukemia journey lasted two-and-a-half years, with ups and downs, ins and outs until it reached appoint where doctor’s said there was nothing else they could do.

Nathanial returned home with hospice care, devastating his family and friends, especially his sister, Hannah.

“It was especially tough for Hannah, because if Nathanial died, this would be the second sibling she had lost, leaving her an only child,” Yehling said.

Despite the grim situation, Yehling said Nathanial continued to show strength through his smiles.

“One day, his hospice social worker asked him to write a list of all of the things he would like to do,” she said. “Sarah told him she would look at the list when she came for her next visit. What was on Nathanial’s list not only surprised everyone, but proved how loving and caring Nathanial really was.”

Yehling said Nathanial didn’t ask to go to Walt Disney World or to a football game.

“Instead, the first thing on his list was to do a fundraiser for Meredith’s Miracles,” she said. “He said it had to be a big place that had a lot going on. He wanted to do this because if ‘Ms. Emily’ had not given his mom checks, he would not be able to see the doctors.”

Yehling said Nathanial had learned about fundraising through his journey.

“He would come to our valentine store and sit and enjoy making candy sundaes with his mom,” she said. “He also collected Bibles to hand out to the other children at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.”

The fundraiser was a lemonade stand with baked goods, and Nathanial requested everyone bring Bibles, as well.

“When Kiley (Spears) and I left, there were nearly 500 Bibles,” Yehling said. “Nathanial’s Aunt Ann’s employer wanted to help with the fundraiser, but business kept him from being present. Instead, Mr. Harper, owner of Wiregrass Construction, decided to match whatever Nathanial raised for Meredith’s Miracles.”

He raised $20,000.

Nathanial, 8, lost his battle with leukemia a few weeks ago.

“He didn’t have a long life, but Nathanial certainly had a meaningful, loving and generous life,” she said. “I miss that little man who taught me a valuable lesson, ‘It’s not always about us.’”