2019 Butterfly Wishes for Madison


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Why We Fundraise:

This year in March, I organized our second annual Butterflies for Madison fundraising event with Maddie's family. Maddie is our son's friend who was diagnosed with DIPG Cancer in May of 2016 and passed away in April of 2017. That cancer makes us all so angry because the diagnosis and treatment of this cancer haven't changed in more than 50 years. With research funding,  the average survival time after diagnosis is nine months. This cancer also usually hits children between the ages of 4 and 12. In the United States alone, 300 children die from this cancer each year. Yet - there are not large amounts of money being donated to research and find a cure.

The Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation seeks to change that. After having lost their own child, Michael, to DIPG, the Mosier family has organized and fundraised and continues to work so hard for awareness as well. 

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The Personal:

This story has totally hit our whole community. All of us that were parents of young children heard this story and it just hit so close to home. We help our children grieve, grow older without their friend, and grieve that Maddie isn't growing with them. We will continue to grieve in new ways over our lifetimes. 

Jonny, our son, never spent a year not celebrating Maddie's birthday with her since they met at the age of nearly three. Maddie died one week after turning 8 years old and having both of these dates together is so very painful for her family. In 2018, because we love them so much, we asked Maddie's parents if they would be interested in a fundraiser for DIPG that also served as a way to celebrate Maddie's birthday as well as honor her on the anniversary of her death. They loved the idea of raising butterflies, one of Maddie's favorite creatures. 

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Maddie's Favorite Things:

Maddie was a girl who loved going to school. She loved going to school so much that she was frustrated on fun field trip days, like when the school went to the amusement park, because she wasn't learning. She, as a younger girl, independently decided to learn to speak Spanish through Duolingo. She was SO smart and curious about the world.  

Maddie also loved beautiful things, glittery things, unicorns, and magical things. She loved to imagine and create and make crafts. She loved to do so many things. She was good and kind and full of love to everyone around her.

The butterfly release brings together beautiful creatures with science. Maddie's parents think it's a perfect way to remember and celebrate Maddie.

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The Project:

For the past two years, we have locally sold Caterpillar to Butterfly grow kits to those who have been touched by Maddie's story. We add a little bit to the cost of the kits, which becomes a donation to the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation. This year, we also held an event where we sold butterfly cookies, hosted butterfly crafts, held a basket auction, and welcomed children who wanted to sell something they had made on their own to have a table and also donate their profits to DIPG research. Everyone was welcomed on this day to pick up their caterpillar kits and just get together and be a community of love.

Everyone who buys the caterpillars takes them home and watches them grow. When the butterflies are ready, they release them into the wild. Many people filmed their releases and shouted hello to Maddie as the butterflies flew away. Everyone gets to be part of this in a way that works for them and is meaningful to them. We like it that way.

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Our Family's' Release:

This was a really special thing for us. We had Maddie and her family in our hearts and in our prayers as we did this. It is so good to be able to do something tangible when the physical presence of Maddie isn't with us anymore. We prayed together before we released the butterflies. 

We decided to release our butterflies in a really special place. We went into the release with such sadness in our hearts, missing Maddie. But as our butterflies crawled all over us and didn't want to fly away at all, we laughed and my sons and I had a good time. It felt good to make that place have a few smiles in those moments. We did our release in the morning right before school and we were really starting to worry about being late but we gently put the butterflies on some flowers and left them a few drops of orange juice to sip on before we drove away.

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Mature Butterflies:

We didn't realize this when I snapped this photo but the butterfly in the middle has eggs ready to lay at a moment's notice! How amazing! I love that we got to see this after we came home and looked at the photos. They were so tiny that our eyes couldn't see them casually unless we knew what we were looking for!

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Until Next Year:

We hope to continue to organize this fundraiser with Maddie's family. We look forward to it each year now. Until next year, we will remember it by these photos. I think the whole thing is pretty special and I'm so glad to be part of it.

Wishing you love and grace,


What am I about?

My business is about providing art opportunities in the Altoona community as well as portraiture photography work. As a creative person, I like to dabble in other areas that allow me to bear witness to others' lives and explore what brings us all together. Though If you would like to follow along, you can check out my last blog article or join my newsletter!

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