My daughter Maddie has a heart for the lost, for the marginalized, and for the broken in our world. I am not sure if it is because she herself has Cerebral Palsy and, in reconciling that, learned to find joy and promise in life that she now gifts to everyone around her. I cannot say for sure, though it is exactly what she does on a daily basis.
She routinely collects lost things, much to my germ phobic dismay. She can see something in the things others would have purposefully thrown away, lost, and forgotten. Maddie manages to see the unimaginable…the possibilities in the discarded parts of peoples lives. She painstakingly repurposes them and creates things of great beauty on a regular basis out of the items she sees cast aside. It is truly remarkable.
Similarly, she has come into her own recently, I believe as a result of this nonprofit that I felt compelled to start four years ago in order to stand up for all children suffering from a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. We have come a long way since then. Interestingly, at age eight, Maddie did not even know that she had a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, as my husband and I had worked hard to keep labels and limits off of her. But, then as a result of Maddie’s expressed pleading and desire to stop toiling with 10 therapy sessions per week and to ‘be a normal little girl that has friends and fun and…wants to learn to dance ballet’, the idea and mandate for the nonprofit appeared. Fast forward to today, Maddie now knows that she has Cerebral Palsy and has become a tremendous advocate and spokesperson for not only our nonprofit, but for marginalized and misunderstood special needs kids throughout our community and, on an even larger scale, the country — thanks to Facebook.
Although she has distinct physical challenges, she radiates joy and light and has proven to have a gift for creative writing, for drawing and, for sculpting –in spite of her fine motor challenges. She has a masterful way of helping words and ideas take flight. For this, I am deeply impressed and grateful and feel compelled to help her come into the fullness of her destiny. At the same time, I have no doubt that others like her, young and old, will be shepherded into a greater fullness of their own destinies. In this way, I think this healing journey will all prove to be worthwhile.
So, in honor of World Cerebral Palsy Month, I would like to celebrate my daughter who has proven that anyone can make a difference in this life, no matter what challenges they face or what hand they have been dealt. May she be an inspiration to young and old that joy does not come from perfectly aligned circumstances, but instead from perspective and inner contentment.
For more information on Maddie’s story or to hear a recent advocacy speech she has presented in front of more than 100+ 6th graders and administrators at her school, please see our website, and our Facebook page.
Check out more of Maddie’s art! If you are interested in purchasing any of her work, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org