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January 10, 2024

Pressley, Make-A-Wish Surprise Lexington Teen with Wish Reveal

Photos and Video (Dropbox)

WASHINGTON Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) surprised seventeen-year-old Ariana “Ari” Hargrove of Lexington, MA when she arrived at the Boston office of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island on Friday afternoon, January 5, to discover a room full of her family and friends. Ari was emotional taking in the room full of people in her “village,” as Pressley referred to them. Congresswoman Pressley announced to Ari that her wish to tour Spelman College and other HBCUs in Atlanta, Georgia, will be granted this spring.

Ari has tenaciously faced the challenges of lupus and says the opportunity to have a wish granted has helped her stay hopeful for and focused on her future.

“My wish has been something to look forward to. Dealing with lupus has been a challenge, it’s been a battle. But the Make-A-Wish experience has been something that’s on the bright side of having lupus, something that pushes me more to keep going, to not give up,” said Ari Hargrove.

“Ari is a fighter, a hero, and an inspiration. No matter the challenges, her spirit never wavers and there is no one more deserving of having their Make-A-Wish granted,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “I was honored to be a small part of granting her wish to visit Spelman and other incredible HBCUs, and to discuss how we can combat racism, bullying, and create safer learning environments for our students. I can’t wait to see everything the future has in store for Ari, and I thank Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island for inviting me to be a part of this incredible and joyous day.”

Joining Congresswoman Pressley in the presentation were Spelman alumnae and the group presented Ari with a Spelman letter jacket and other Spelman swag. Ari then had the opportunity to sit down and talk in depth with the Congresswoman, the Spelman community members, and Linda Dorcena Forry, a member of the Make-A-Wish Massachusetts Board of Directors and local changemaker.

Ari and her family received a special motorcade to and from the reveal provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and supported by the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police Department, and Lexington Police Department.

“It was an honor to transport Ari and her family for her wish reveal alongside our state and local law enforcement partners.  Being able to support such a worthy cause and to add to this experience was a joy for our team and all involved,” said Matthew O’Brien, Special Agent-in-Charge, Boston Field Office, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service.

In keeping with the theme of Ari’s wish to travel to Georgia, southern comfort food for the reveal was generously donated by Hunter’s Kitchen & Bar of South Boston, MA. When Hunter’s Chef Lambert Givens, who is an HBCU alum of South Carolina State University, heard about Ari’s wish, he was inspired to personally deliver and serve the food he had cooked for her reveal.

Chef Lambert, who won Beat Bobby Flay on the hit Food Network show in 2022, said, “We are absolutely thrilled to lend our support to Make-A-Wish, and learning about Ari’s wish struck a particularly resonant chord with me as an alum of an HBCU. Ari’s decision to use her wish in this way is not just inspiring—it’s a testament to her foresight and ambition. Knowing she’s chosen a path that celebrates the legacy and value of HBCUs gives me immense hope for the incredible impact she’s bound to make in the future. I’m eagerly looking forward to witnessing the great things she will undoubtedly achieve.”

Also in attendance at the reveal were Ari’s physician and members of the Make-A-Wish staff and board leadership team.

“We are so proud to be able to help grant wishes for amazing kids in our community like Ari,” said Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island Board of Directors member Linda Dorcena Forry. “To see her family and friends gathered today for the surprise reveal with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was such a rewarding experience. I’m so proud of the work our team does here locally to support families and I can’t wait to debrief with Ari after her wish takes place!”

Ari’s mother, Jennifer Teixeira, reflected, “Today was truly a dream come true for Ariana and our family. The Make-A-Wish team is the most amazing group of people. Seeing Ariana’s reaction to her wish was so touching. It made me so happy to see her smile and truly be happy.  My family and I really want to say thank you to everyone that came together to make this reveal day such a special day for Ariana. She really felt so honored.”

Ari and her family will travel to Georgia this spring for her wish.

Photos and video footage of the surprise reveal can be found here. Credit: Dalia Sadaka/Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island.