Police had a motorcycle escort for Jerome's limousine that arrived at the mall for a crowd of his "fans". Source: WLBT
Jerome gives his fans his autograph before he goes inside to begin his shopping spree. Source: WLBT
RIDGELAND, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
14-year-old Jerome Cunningham climbed out of the limo wearing shades, maybe to avoid the glare of the cameras as he greeted cheering fans at Northpark Mall on Tuesday. The gracious young man paused for autographs and pictures before heading inside for some celebrity-style shopping.
"Shoe store, maybe Foot Locker, Levi store," Cunningham tells us, regarding his shopping plans.
Cunningham is getting star treatment and a shopping spree, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi. He's been battling an illness all his life.
"Sickle Cell Anemia. It's a disease," he tells us, adding that he must visit the hospital regularly for blood transfusions.
Cunningham has never had a day like this, picking out whatever he wants. But the Foundation says the rewards won't stop when the limousine pulls away.
"Its part of their recovery process. 90% of the medical professionals tell us the wish impacts their health," says Brent Wilson, CEO of Make-A-Wish of Mississippi.
We asked Cunningham's mom, Towanda Sanders, if the day is a dream come true.
"Yes, because he's been through a lot," she says. "They're helping my son. They just walked up and asked me would he like to apply for Make-A-Wish, and I did, and they approved him... he's so happy."
Sanders says the whole family has been through a lot, so family members came out in support of the kid they say deserves star treatment every day.
"Thank everyone, and I love you guys," Cunningham says.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi gets no grant money or government money. It operates solely off of private donations. The organization grants 110 wishes every year, but hopes to soon be able to grant wishes for every child with a life threatening medical condition.
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