How Chance The Rapper Gave One Gravely Ill Teenager A Fighting Chance
When I decided to launch THREAD MB it wasn’t for the purpose of making money. In fact, we donate 100% of our revenue to the social causes and cause-based organizations we feature or include in our interviews. It was because I was driven to challenge the negative aura cast over humanity on a daily basis.
You see, I believe, people are good and despite our imperfections and differences, more of us are involved in "healing the world" than not. We just don’t hear much about those efforts regularly despite the fact that we, as a global community, need to as, in there lies our hope, optimism and future, in my opinion.
Occasionally, beyond just writing and sharing these wonderful stories through THREAD MB, however, I am given the opportunity to help one come to life. This was the case, most recently, between a young man and Chance The Rapper.
You see, the young man, named Drew Montgomery, fell suddenly ill the day before his graduation from high school, missing his commencement ceremony and frightening his parents and sister to death. The family had already endured quite a lot over the prior few years, including major economic hardships, employment difficulties, personal woes (including the many responsibilities that come from aging-ailing parents), and a variety of obstacles that would have
broken many other families but this one. And yet, through all of that, this family clung together and held on tight. They also found the bandwidth to welcome me and my children into the Madison, Connecticut, community with warmth and grace when we up and moved here. Nice folks!
That said, when the news that Drew would have to place his life on hold due to the unexpected onset of aplastic anemia, the family’s resilience was, indeed, shaken. Treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the infectious disease specialists attributed the emergence of the illness to be the result of Drew’s generous heart, which led him to volunteer at a wildlife refuge in South Africa for 3 weeks the previous summer. He would also have the opportunity to visit a number of orphanages while there. So eager to go, Drew raised the money for the trip himself and so his parents supported their son’s desire to “give back” in this way. Unfortunately, the specialists now believe that Drew contracted a disease while on this trip that led to the breakdown of their son’s bone marrow.
The only solution currently would be a bone marrow transplant, costing well over $300,000. Forced to delay his entry into
George Washington University, Drew required multiple blood transfusions, a bone marrow donor, a two-month long daily regime of chemotherapy (in-hospital), the bone marrow transplant, and a 6-8 month recovery period.
The upside, his only sister proved to be a bone marrow match (a “twenty-five percent chance of compatibility” stroke of luck). The downside, continuous infections and roadblocks imposed by insurance issues and a ton of red tape that kept Drew from moving forward in his treatment and ultimate recovery.
Falling short on hope, Drew began to spiral into a depression leaving his mother, Jo, to do what she could to lift his spirits despite the fact that hers, too, were being challenged. Knowing how much Drew idolizes Chance The Rapper, Jo Montgomery thought that if she could somehow get in touch with Chance, maybe he could restore hope in her son. She began doing her homework.
Shortly, thereafter, Jo emailed me. Divulging the entire tale, Jo would conclude by asking me if I could get in touch with Chance The Rapper for her as she knew I was connected to his manager through Linkedin. I told her I would try.
It took me one well-crafted, thoughtful email to receive the hope Drew was looking for. Chance The Rapper’s team couldn’t have been more responsive, concerned and helpful -- a reflection of Chance’s obvious character. Before long, Drew Montgomery received the note and signed cap shared in the photo above, with a promise of concert tickets once he was able and healthy.
What Chance’s efforts did for Drew and his family could not fully be explained. When Drew posted the photo to his instagram account, his entire friend circle couldn’t believe their eyes and told him so. Drew felt like a superstar, himself. Jo quickly sent me a note letting me know what Chance and his team had done. Drew’s sister told my daughter (also friends) that “This was the first sign of hope the family had, had in a long time. Maybe things will begin to turn around from here.” Their gratitude was genuinely overwhelming. My initial thought when I learned of the news was “How fortunate we, parents, are to have such a wonderful role model for our children.”
Drew still has a long way to go with no absolutes to fully count on. But he now believes that ‘miracles can happen.” Chance The Rapper and his team have given him that. In other words, good begets good. If that is not heroism and hope, nothing is.
I’m sharing this story with you because the Montgomery family agreed that such stories are needed today more than ever before. We are living in dark times, currently, but there is also a great deal of light burning brightly in examples like this one. Jo Montgomery also wanted everyone to know just how much respect and gratitude she holds for Chance and his team on behalf of their entire family. If you don’t know Chance The Rapper’s music or love him already, this selfless gesture, alone, will give you reason to want to.
And so, I say, let this act of kindness be the catalyst to one of your own. Help your neighbor. Do what you can. And remember, we are all in this together. Given we subscribe to the very same thoughtfulness and caring that Chance The Rapper and his team as well as the Montgomery family and Drew do throughout their lives, our globe has more than a fighting chance. We will, in fact, have bestowed upon it yet another well-needed, wise, and meaningful miracle.