His family and friends will always remember Noah Hill as a good-natured kid who loved pro wrestling and had a sassy sense of humor.
Despite being non-verbal, Noah had a special way of communicating with people around him, annoying his older sister by stuffing his nose, expressing her contempt with a characteristic grimace, and even using a YouTube channel – Noah’s Wrestling Entertainment his aunt started Michelle Willis.
At the age of 8, Noah was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called GNA01 – short for G Protein Subunit Alpha 01. At that time, fewer than 100 people worldwide were living with the disease. While the presentation of GNA01 can vary widely from person to person, Noah’s symptoms were involuntary movement and low muscle tone; He couldn’t walk or speak either, said his mother Allison Hill.
These things didn’t stop the 14-year-old Wilson Middle School student from enjoying life to the full, Hill said. He enjoyed family vacations where all of his favorite people could be together – especially when it was a swimming pool. He was known in school and was often greeted in public by people who recognized him, much to his mother’s surprise.
“Anywhere we’d go people would say, ‘Hello Noah!'” Hill recalled with a laugh. “And I would say, ‘I don’t know who you are – Noah, how do you know her from?”
Eventually, she admitted her son’s celebrity status and got used to meeting people who loved him.
Last year, a difficult season of respiratory illness challenged Noah’s weakened body.
He passed away on December 3, leaving his parents – Hill and her husband Heath -, sister Sara, and many loving family members, classmates and teachers at Wilson.
“Noah was a brave and strong little man who fought hard and long every day of his life,” was his obituary. “He could put a smile on your face, with his side grin and the ornery look in his eyes. He brought love and joy to our family every day. “
After his funeral, Noah’s family began looking for ways to help his legacy carry on.
Hill happened to be talking to a friend in North Carolina who had set up a “blessing box” in her ward in honor of her son who was killed in a car accident. The box stored goods for needy residents and was placed in a place that was accessible to everyone. Hill knew immediately that it would be an appropriate way to pay tribute to her son while also blessing the ward.
And so Noah’s blessing box came into being.
“Allison just wants to do something. A grieving mother just wants something to be done in Noah’s name, ”said Hill’s mother, Marilyn Willis, who helped bring the Blessing Box project to life.
Located outside the Good Guys Garage on 23 S. Fourth St. in downtown Newark, the metal box was ordered from Amazon, assembled by the family, and raised on four legs by a local welding company for the homeless or needy.
The box is labeled “Noah’s Blessing Box” – stenciled by Michelle Willis in orange, Noah’s favorite color. A quote in the lower right corner reads: “Take what you need, bring what you can; above all, be blessed. “
When they set up the box on April 15, the family neatly set up the shelves with non-perishable goods, bottled water, and a couple of bags of Noah’s favorite candy – Reese’s cups.
“We just want to see what’s up,” said Marilyn Willis.
They plan to check the box regularly to replenish the items as needed and invite anyone who is able to contribute.
While the family will never cease to feel the empty space that Noah’s death left behind, knowing that his legacy will live on in meaningful ways gives them encouragement, Hill said.
“I would hope it will be there for those who need something … no one should have to be hungry,” said Hill. “So I just want to share a little bit of Noah and hopefully help some people.”
You can find more information about Noah’s blessing box on Facebook under “Noah’s World”.