President to honor Clayton teen with volunteer award

Posted June 19, 2008
Updated June 20, 2008

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— Nick Marriam gets his inspiration from bringing a little sunshine into the lives of sick children.

After all, the 15-year-old was once a sick kid himself.

"I see a little bit of me inside of them," Marriam says.

Now, President George W. Bush is taking notice of Marriam's spirit of volunteerism by awarding the Clayton teenager the President's Volunteer Service Award on Friday when the president is in the state for a private Republican fundraiser at developer John Kane's home.

White house officials were keeping secret when and where Marriam and the president will meet.

At age 6, Marriam was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and missed two years of school while he fought the disease. He's now in remission.

"I was very isolated," Marriam, a rising sophomore at West Johnston High School, remembers. "I couldn't talk to any of my friends. It was very tough."

Motivated by his own illness, he and his cousin founded a nonprofit organization, the Nickelby Project, in an effort to make a difference in the lives of others.

He conducts fundraisers, writes 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 his way of bringing hope and encouragement to others battling serious illnesses.

"A lot of the parents cry," Marriam says. "And the kids – seeing the kids go through it is just as good as the parents' reaction."

"Five years ago, when I was sick, I never thought I'd meet the president," Marriam said. "I never thought about that."

Since March 2002, 600 people across the nation have received the award.

In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush called on Americans to make a difference in their communities through volunteer service. He created the USA Freedom Corps to strengthen and expand volunteer services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 61 million Americans, like Marriam, volunteered in 2006.

As for Marriam, his Nickelby Project recently launched a scholarship program to benefit childhood cancer survivors. He's also in the process of expanding his donations to include hospitals in every state.


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  • momof2 Jun 20, 2008

    NC Pictures- I agree with you 100%!

  • NCPictures Jun 20, 2008

    His parents, and the community, should be proud of this fine young man! As others have said, a true inspiration!

    Too bad we have some people that just cant keep away from politicizing even a great even like this! Shame on you!

  • Ken D. Jun 20, 2008

    foetine - if they invited him to the White House, then the taxpayers wouldn't have to pay for his trip to that Raleigh fundraiser.

  • foetine Jun 20, 2008

    Shame they didn't invite him up to the White House for a proper ceremony.

  • jamesjmoore999 Jun 20, 2008

    Our future is in good hands with young people such as this young man.

  • raleighheels Jun 20, 2008

    Glad to see this story on this young man...Looks like he went through a couragous situation of his on and didnt let that slow him down. I am proud of this teen and hope he continues to grow into a fine young adult. I too will be sending a donation!

  • 1opinion Jun 20, 2008

    My donation is on the way. Good job young man!

  • Meandmytwo Jun 20, 2008

    This child is truly blessed. What a heart warming story. This is what makes the world turn, blessing someone else and making a sick child smile. He deserves this so much. Keep your smiles and blessing up young man, God is so proud of you.

  • momof2 Jun 20, 2008

    I'm sorry--here is the complete address.

  • tgw Jun 20, 2008

    God bless you young man. Keep up the excellent work.

    WRAL-get us the young man's webb address. Thank you for an excellent story.