FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) — Little Mariah O’Neill never met Jeremiah Oliver or his siblings, but his story struck her deeply.
Hearing about the plight of the missing 5-year-old, whose body was recently found on the side of a highway in Sterling, Mariah, 10, knew she had to do something.
“I wanted to help out,” she said. “I think it’s really sad, what happened.”
Mariah, a fourth-grader at Crocker Elementary School, had never written a song before, but she was inspired to express how she felt about the little boy lost too soon.
Her mother, Tyann Ramos, 34, said her cousin, Sigfrido Carrillo, 29, had told her he was thinking about making his own song, but Mariah didn’t know about it.
“She had slept over his house. He works an 11-to-7 shift, and when he came home in the morning, she handed him a paper with the verse of the song she had already wrote, without knowing that he wanted to make a song,” Ramos said. “He read it, and was like, ‘I have the perfect beat and music for the song.’ “
In less than 24 hours, she said, they crafted the song. Mariah came up with most of the words, and Carrillo helped to put it together, laying Mariah’s rapped words over a Spanish song he pulled from his vast collection of music.
“We listened to the beat and tried to make it flow well with it,” Mariah said.
“This goes out to the hearts that broke, child abuse is really no joke. How you took his life, we don’t understand. Now he can only hold God’s hand,” her song begins. “No birthday for him to enjoy, you took the life of an innocent boy. Jeremiah we’re all praising you. You’re never forgotten, no erasing you, no replacing you. We love you! How could they show hate to you?”
Ramos’ other children and her cousin’s children, a total of seven, all participated in the song, yelling “We love you!”
The Spanish part of the song, sung in a child’s voice, roughly translates to “Here is my hand.
When things get difficult, I’ll always be here, you won’t be alone,” according to Ramos.
“When I heard the whole thing put together, it made me cry,” Ramos said. “It’s so sad. The whole situation, it’s just horrible.”
She said Mariah first made the CDs to give to Jeremiah’s family members at a balloon release last Friday in Worcester, and ended up raising more than $300 the first day. Mariah sells the CDs for whatever people can give, from pocket change to as much as $140, Ramos said.
“Her first goal was $750, and when she walked out of that funeral home and she passed it, she was crying, she was so happy,” she said.
The CDs have only been sold by word of mouth and Facebook, Ramos said. As of Tuesday, she said Mariah had raised $867 and many other CDs have been promised, with the expectation of raising at least $1,000 by the end of the week.
“It’s amazing how many people have reached out to us to help because of what she’s done,” Ramos said.
She said Mariah also inspired her teachers to start a collection to donate to the funeral.
Ramos said all funds raised from the CD sales are going directly to Smith-Mallahy-Masciarelli Funeral Home on Water Street, which is preparing Jeremiah’s body.
After the funeral on Saturday, if the CDs keep selling, the funds raised will go toward a bench that has been planned in Jeremiah’s memory and a trust fund set up for his siblings, she said.
To donate and receive a CD of Mariah’s song for Jeremiah, contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.