Eight-year-old chess champion Tantioluxa Adewumi has recently gained national attention.
According to the New York Times, Tani and his family sought asylum in the U.S. in 2017, fleeing attacks on Christians by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. They landed in New York and have been living in homeless shelters ever since. His father drives for Uber and has recently become a licensed real estate salesman; his mother has completed coursework to be a home health aide.
Tani attends a local public school, where he first learned about chess. He wanted to join his school’s chess team, but he wasn’t able to afford it until the fee was waived.
Just one year after joining, he earned first place at the 52nd New York State Scholastic Championship Tournament.
With relatively little background in this game, he’s shown great skill and a strong determination to succeed. “He is so driven,” said school chess teacher, Shawn Martinez. “He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”
When Nick Kristof of the Times covered Tani’s story, word began to spread about his living situation. A GoFundMe page was set up for him and his family, and in a matter of days, over $200,000 was raised in support of his family’s needs.
Recent updates by the Times have showcased just how deeply Tani’s story has affected readers across the country: one anonymous donor generously paid a year’s rent for an apartment near his school, another offered furniture, and another is sending Tani chess books.
The family has expressed deep gratitude for all the support they’ve received.
Amazingly, however, when the Times reporter asked about how Tani’s family plans to use the money raised by the GoFundMe page, they responded that they won’t be keeping any of it.
They plan to donate 10% to their church and then start a foundation—the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation—with the rest. In hopes of returning the generosity they’ve been shown, they are starting this foundation to support other African immigrants who might be in need of help too. Tani explained, “I want to help other kids. I don’t mind.”
Tani’s story is an inspiring example for all of us on what it means to be truly generous. No matter what we do or where we live, we can all be generous in some capacity—whether its with our time, talent, or money. Even though it’s not always easy to give without counting the cost, when we do, beautiful things can come from it.
“God has already blessed me,” Tani’s dad told Nick. “I want to release my blessing to others.”