Eight-year-old homeless refugee wins a chess championship, inspires a tidal wave of generosity.

Eight-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi won first place in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade March 10.

He went undefeated in the tournament beating children from elite private schools.

“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” he told the New York Times.


While the feat is impressive, what’s even more remarkable is that Tani, as he’s known, has only been playing chess for one year. Add to that, he’s only lived in America for two years — his family fled northern Nigeria in 2017 avoid being killed by Boko Haram terrorists.

And he lives in a homeless shelter.

For a little more than a year, Tani and his mother and father have lived in a shelter in New York City. His mother recently passed a course to become a home health aide and his father, Kayode, rents a car so he can drive for Uber and recently became a licensed real estate salesman.

The family has requested asylum, but their request is coming along slowly. The have a hearing scheduled for August.

Young Tani already has seven chess trophies that sit beside his bed in the shelter. He became enamored with the game after joining the chess club at his school P.S. 116. When the head of the school’s chess program, Russell Makofsky, heard that Tani's Family as homeless he waived the fees.

“He is so driven,” his school chess teacher, Shawn Martinez, said. “He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”

In addition to participating in the school chess program, every Saturday he attends a three-hour practice session in Harlem. He also practices every night on his father's laptop.

When news of his astonishing story spread, Makofsky started a GoFundMe campaign to help the family find a place to live. In just four days the campaign has already raised nearly $200,000 for the family — more than enough to get them an apartment.

After the generous donations poured in and the family knew they could get back on their feet, Kayode decided to pay it forward. He announced on the GoFundMe page that the rest of the money would go to create the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation “to share the generosity of others to those in need.”

“The U.S. is a dream country,” Kayode told The New York Times. “Thank God I live in the greatest city in the world, which is New York, New York.”

More

There's nothing like a good reunion story to get you misty in the ol' tear ducts. Kate Howard, the managing editor of Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, shared a story of randomly running into the dog she used to foster on Twitter. You know all those dog reunion movies? The ones with names like A Dog's Hope and A Dog's Sloppy Kiss? The ones that make you cry buckets no matter how hard you think your heart is? Well, this is that, but in real life.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / James Van Der Beek

About one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, although it is believed the number might be higher because many miscarriages occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. Miscarriage is actually quite common, yet many people who've had one feel alone, partly because there's still a taboo around talking about it. In order to reduce the stigma surrounding the loss, James Van Der Beek opened up about the struggles him and his wife, Kimberly, experienced.

The Van Der Beeks, who have been married since 2010, have five children and one on the way. In a pre-taped segment on "Dancing with the Stars," Van Der Beek announced that his family will be welcoming a new baby. But the segment gave us a more personal look as Van Der Beek revealed they've experienced three miscarriages as well. "We've had five kids and three miscarriages," Van Der Beek told his dance partner, Emma Slater. "Miscarriage is something that people don't really talk about, and we wanted to recognize that it happens to people. We wanted to destigmatize that as much as we possibly could."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

Keep Reading Show less
Future Edge
True
Capital One