Reporters’ notebook: A 6 year-old with a sweet idea and a ton of toys

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Six-year-old Maddox Nason had a goal earlier this month to raise $200 through his cookies and artwork to buy toys for sick children. He’d been inspired when he saw kids on a Make-A-Wish visit to Sea World during a family vacation and asked his mom when they could do to help.

The Auburn boy raised that and then some.

His mom, Melissa Nason, said this week they went shopping at Wal-Mart with $613.50. 

He bought 16 Lego sets, enough beads to make more than 1,000 bracelets, hand-held games, puzzles, crayons, markers, coloring books, bead-making machines and craft supplies.

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The toys were headed to the playrooms of Central Maine Medical Center and Maine Medical Center this week, delivered by Maddox.

“He is quite happy and he has recruited a lot of friends in a discussion for what could be done next year on a larger scale,” Melissa Nason said. “I tell you, it’s been hard having all of those toys in one room of the house, but he’s been pretty good about it. He has been yearning for the mega box of markers the most, though.”

— Kathryn Skelton

Law in the family

A little more than 100 years ago, there was a family of four very ambitious brothers, the sons of peddlers.

Oldest brother Jake Berman put himself through Boston University Law School then started a practice in Portland. 

“He then put his next-oldest brother through law school, and that was Ben Berman, who came to Lewiston thinking at the time there was only room for one Jewish lawyer in Portland,” lawyer Steven Silin said.

In 1914, Ben Berman founded what’s now Berman & Simmons on Lisbon Street in Lewiston.

“They then put their third brother through law school and he then joined up with Jake in Portland,” said Silin. “Then they put their fourth brother through law school, all Boston University, that was David Berman who came and joined Ben.”

Ben Berman’s firm is still standing, and in a way, Jake Berman’s is, too, he said. “The Portland Berman firm went on to morph into what is now Preti Flaherty through marriage.”

— Kathryn Skelton

Wish granted

Jorja Flynn thought she and her family were going to meet visiting relatives for dinner near the Maine Mall. Instead, the Lewiston 10-year-old found herself in Macy’s, unwrapping a surprise gift box in front of TV cameras and Macy’s company reps, store employees and curious shoppers.

In the box: sunscreen, sunglasses and, tucked at the bottom, a postcard. 

“Your wish has been granted,” it stated. “You’re going to Hawaii.”

“I think she was a little shocked,” her mom, Doreen Gummoe, said.

Jorja is one of three sisters with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic blood disorder that destroys bone marrow and makes people extremely susceptible to cancer. Her older sister, Jordan, has the disease and received a bone marrow transplant in 2012. Now 16 — a junior in high school and newly licensed driver — Jordan is doing well.

Jorja and her twin sister, Julia, have FA, too. While Julia’s blood counts have been stable, Jorja’s have fallen. The fifth-grader now takes medication and undergoes a bone marrow biopsy every three months to watch for signs that she, too, needs a transplant.

Jorja made three wishes to Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that helps children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. She wanted to go to Hawaii, visit Paris, or meet “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery.

On Dec. 12, in the middle of Macy’s, she learned her Hawaiian wish had been granted.

Macy’s sponsored Jorja’s trip, one of 50 wishes it helped grant on Dec. 12. It also gave her a $300 shopping spree and a makeover.

The family trip is planned for February. It will include snorkeling and a swim with dolphins.

— Lindsay Tice

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