WASHINGTON - During her husband's time in the White House, Nancy Reagan touched many lives here in the District. For one Washington D.C. mother, the former first lady left a special impression on her family after she came to visit her dying son in the hospital back in 1983.
Ornell Irae Gilliam was only 8 years old when he was struck by a car in a hit-and-run outside of his D.C. elementary school. He was critically injured and spent nearly two months in a coma at Children’s National Medical Center.
When he woke up right before Christmas, he told his mother all he wanted was to see the "lady in the red suit.”
Gilliam’s mother told his medical team about this and they managed to get in contact with the White House.
Nancy Reagan came to visit the young boy at the hospital on Christmas Eve. She spent several hours chatting with the 8-year-old boy and even delivered a personal Christmas present.
Tragically, Gilliam died the next day on Christmas.
Gilliam’s mother, Katie, is grateful to this day for Mrs. Reagan granting her son's final wish.
“To walk away from her busy schedule and come there to honor a request of a child that had been in a tragic accident, it was amazing,” she said. “When I found out she had passed yesterday, it took a lot out of me.”
A month after her son died, Reagan sent the Gilliams a personal letter acknowledging her time with the child while also expressing her heartfelt condolences.
Gilliam’s mother said that letter is another example of Mrs. Reagan's wonderful generosity and kindness.