Today my local public school system is celebrating Mo Gaba Day, in honor of Mosilla “Mo” Kingsley Gaba, born on January 26, 2006. Who is Mo Gaba? If you aren’t a Maryland local, you likely don’t know Mo’s amazing story, but it’s worth telling!
At 9 months old, Mo had his first cancer diagnosis and soon lost his sight completely and permanently. Over his life he fought cancer in his brain, bones, legs and elsewhere, but even with these challenges, Mo became a local celebrity because of his unquenchable enthusiasm for the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, and for life in general. At 9 years old, he began calling local sports radio shows in secret while his mother was at work, sharing thoughts about his teams, and about life, that seemed way beyond his years. To listeners, he was known as “Mo from Glen Burnie.” Over time, people also learned of his health issues and his attitude became an inspiration to, and friend of, many, including then-Orioles player Trey Mancini, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2020. Tragically, 14-year-old Mo Gaba died on July 28, 2020, after spending 75% of his life in hospitals, but he remains inspirational to many.
Two years later to the day, the Orioles held their first Mo Gaba Day, and something amazing happened: “Mancini hit an inside-the-park home run with a runner on base that started as what appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly. However, the ball deflected off the glove of Tampa Bay right fielder Josh Lowe after he lost it in the afternoon sun and hit him in the face, allowing Mancini to score…Trey commented about Mo playing around in the clouds so that he could score.” As Mancini rounded the bases, there was hardly a dry eye in attendance at the game, or watching on TV. The Orioles won 3-0.
I don’t know much about Mo’s private life, the source of his hope and personality, or his religion, but share his story in the spirit of Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Can followers of Christ provide hope as Mo did?
Lastly, below is what I posted to Facebook the day after hearing of his passing.
“RIP Mo Gaba, age 14.
Who is Mo Gaba? A few years ago I started hearing him on the radio, calling in to the sports talk show I listened to in the car on my drive home. He would have been about 10 when I first heard him. Kids don’t call in much and the hosts usually aren’t patient with them so I wondered what was the deal with this very informed, very enthusiastic kid. He loved his Orioles and Ravens!!! Later I found out he was blind and had been fighting cancer his whole life. He was confined to a wheelchair. But he was so endearingly positive at all times. The talk show host (Jeremy Conn) became a big advocate for him and his family, raising money to support him. Other local sports figures and celebrities also began to support this kid who had an amazing personality in spite of his health problems that would crush many peoples spirits. for example, “In 2019, Gaba became the first person to announce an NFL draft pick in Braille when he announced the Ravens’ fourth-round pick.” Yesterday he was in the news (below) for getting into the Orioles Hall of Fame and today he’s gone.
We can all learn a lesson from his attitude in the face of adversity. His joy was infectious.
May we all experience joy as the world has become so negative and in turmoil! A world that in some ways is teaching us to feel nothing but guilt and helplessness. We are not victims in God’s eyes.
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” – Ecclesiastes 7:14”