“The funny thing is, we were trying to keep things low-key,” Nandi’s mother, Alandria Worthy, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We were trying to keep everything to ourselves ...”
“We didn’t want pictures posted of her online,” Deandre Phillips, Nandi’s father, interjected with a laugh.
But this small fry had other plans. Her unique arrival went almost as viral as the purple Grimace milkshake, spreading from the front page of the AJC to nationally syndicated morning shows and even to major international publications like the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail and India’s Free Press Journal. They were all hungry to tell her story.
So much for privacy.
After Nandi’s emergency birth under the arches made headlines, the world got to meet her family and the McDonald’s crew who helped deliver her the following week. Steve Akinboro, the McDonald’s franchisee, and his staff held a baby shower for the Phillips-Worthy family and recognized the three employees who assisted in the delivery: Tunisia Woodward, Keisha Blue-Murray and Sha’querria Kaigler.
Akinboro gave all three women $250 gift cards for going above and beyond their duties in helping Alandria safely deliver Nandi, but Woodward gave her bonus to the new parents. With the media gathered, Akinboro then announced he was replacing Woodward’s bonus and giving Nandi’s family an even meatier prize: an additional $500.
In the year since, the McDonald’s crew, and especially Woodward, have kept in touch with Nandi’s family through social media. Life has otherwise been remarkably stable despite the initial flurry.
Alandria and Deandre, who had just moved to the Atlanta area a week before Nandi was born, have settled into their new hometown. Nandi’s teenage older brother, Alandre, was able to join the rest of the family. And Woodward and Blue-Murray are both still working at the same McDonald’s, a minor miracle in the fast-food industry, where high turnover is the norm.
Wrapped up like a double cheeseburger, Nandi’s second visit to McDonald’s featured gifts, laughter and a lot less screaming.
While last year’s baby shower was an impressive production, Thursday’s birthday party surpassed it. Woodward, who moonlights as a party planner, pulled out all the stops, with balloons, a “Happy Birthday” backdrop, custom Happy Meal boxes that read “Happy Birthday Little Nugget,” a custom cake and a Happy Meal-shaped smash cake. The group showered Nandi with presents, including a photorealistic chicken nugget pillow and a backpack also shaped like a Happy Meal.
Most importantly, Akinboro and his family kept their promise and made a commitment to Nandi’s future: They opened a college savings account for her and deposited $1,000. Each year, the Akinboro family’s foundation plans to deposit another $1,000 until Nandi turns 18. With the effect of compounding interest, the amount should be well above $20,000 by the time she graduates from high school.
“We are all about feeding and fostering the community,” Akinboro said. “In every community where we do business, if we don’t give back and pay it forward, we’re not worthy of being in that community. ... So giving is not an option; it’s a must.”
Alandria and Deandre were thrilled with the follow-through from the McDonald’s crew.
“It shows that it was more than just a viral moment,” Deandre said.
“I’m glad they kept their promises,” Alandria said. “The fact that they came through ... It was very much appreciated.”
The Little Nugget herself thrived in the spotlight Thursday, smiling at the dozens of strangers gathered around her and happily smearing cake all over her parents. Nandi will always have her inspiring, joyful birth story, but her position as the center of attention could be under threat: Alandria revealed Thursday that she’s expecting again.
Her pregnancy is more good news for a family that once found itself facing the terrifying ordeal of bringing a baby into the world at a fast-food restaurant in a new and unfamiliar city. As much as Nandi’s birth turned out to be a blessing, the family hopes to avoid a McDouble and have their next baby in the hospital, according to plan.
Whatever happens, they know they have a community behind them.
“The McDonald’s family is just that — they’re really family,” Alandria said.