In 2001, former President George H.W. Bush attended a Christmas concert in Washington. There, a non-profit group, Compassion International, spoke during intermission about their mission and asked audience members if they would be willing to sponsor a child in one of their programs. Much to the alarm of his security staff, Bush raised his hand and asked for a pamphlet.
The money Bush sent was put toward the child’s schooling, extracurricular activities, and some of his meals. So began a 10-year sponsorship relationship with Timothy, a boy from the Philippines, who was not allowed to know the identity of his sponsor. CNN has obtained some of the letters shared between Bush and Timothy.
Because of the high-profile life that came along with Bush, his security team insisted he use a pseudonym to communicate with Timothy, for fear that someone may discover he was in contact with the former president and harm him for it. Bush would sign all his letters “G. Walker” instead, and the great secret was only shared with Timothy after he graduated from the program at 17.
Even so, Wess Stafford, the former president of Compassion International, explained that Bush “really pushed the envelope” when it came to hinting at who he really was in the letters. In one letter, he shared a photo of his dog Sadie and gave Timothy plenty of details about her. He also hinted in another letter that he was famous enough to have been invited to the White House for Christmas.
#GeorgeHWBush , who passed away on Nov 30, sent funds to a 7-year- old boy for 10 years, says report
One of his letter to Timothy reads: I want to be your new pen pal. I am an old man, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already. https://t.co/Qbwmk0BM9v
— Business Standard (@bsindia) December 19, 2018
Bush started his very first letter by telling Timothy that he already loved him and asking if he could be his pen pal.
I want to be your new pen pal.
I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already.
I live in Texas – I will write you from time to time – Good Luck. G. Walker”
Over the years, the pair grew close, and although he wasn’t allowed to, Bush would often send Timothy presents, particularly once he learned that the little boy loved to draw and paint.
“Timothy would send him hand drawings and told the President how much he liked art, so he sent over color pencils, sketch pads, and paint,” Stafford said. “I waited for my staff to go to the Philippines and send it with them. They would then bring it to the church Timothy was a part of, so he could collect his gifts.”
And Timothy would respond with letters thanking Bush for not having forgotten about him, and often sending pictures or paintings he had made with his letters.
When Timothy found out who his sponsor was at the age of 17, he was gobsmacked. Despite the many hints that Bush had dropped over the years, he had never suspected he was speaking to a former president of the United States. Unfortunately, that was the last time the organization heard from Timothy, and all attempts to track him down have been futile. Despite the complete lack of contact, Stafford is confident Timothy has made a success of himself.
“We may not know where Timothy is, but we know he’s now living a successful life. Sponsoring a child, even if they are still in the womb, can encourage them and guide them to become great human beings.”