Editor's Choice Winner: Maddie Babineau
When a terminally ill child gets a call from the Children's Wish Foundation, the standard request usually involves visits from Hollywood stars and professional athletes or trips to preferred vacation destinations like Disney Land or Sea World.
But when Maddie Babineau had the opportunity to do something for herself, the 12-year old bone cancer patient did something quite extraordinary. She asked if the money that would used for to grant her wish would instead go to help build a school in Africa. Thanks to a $5,000 donation from The Children’s Wish Foundation, Maddie helped 45 boys and girls in Enelerai enjoy improved education and the hope for a better future.
It was three years ago when Maddie lost her battle with cancer at the age of 15. But that wasn’t before she was able to up the ante as a bold humanitarian. While undergoing severe treatment, she bought jewelry on eBay and resold it from her hospital bed to raise money for a well to accompany the school in Africa. She also started “the MAD project,” which stands for “Making A Difference.”
Maddie’s selfless acts of compassion live on today continue to challenge young people and adults alike to continue her legacy. That’s why Beliefnet is proud to present her with Editor’s Choice for 2010 Most Inspiring Person of the Year. Maddie’s mother Sharon Babineau accepted the award on her behalf.
“It’s fantastic because we’re the ones that are carrying the torch now,” Sharon told Beliefnet. “I feel like she’s passed this wonderful message on to us. When we focus on something that’s positive and really meaningful, we can do anything.”
Sharon estimates that Maddie’s foundation has generated well over $150,000. Among other fundraising ventures, she hosts an annual run in Ontario called “M.A.D. 4 MADDIE.” Most recently, Sharon has overseen a fundraising program that successfully funded a $100,000 health center in Kenya. She was able to visit the school her daughter helped build in Enelerai and plans to make more trips in the future.
And while Sharon is determined to take her daughter’s dream to new heights, she’s equally persistent in sharing Maddie’s story with anyone who will listen.
“She was a shy little girl who was able to find her voice when she was speaking out for others,” Sharon said. “By doing that, it actually made her journey with cancer less difficult. She took the focus off of the cancer and she put it on helping other people.”
Sharon is working on a book about her daughter that she hopes will release later this year or early 2012. She has also written a children’s book inspired by Maddie’s story and plans to self-publish with the proceeds benefitting a newly-formed not-for-profit called Maddie’s Everlasting Wish.
“I believe that everybody has a life purpose and Maddie discovered hers,” Sharon said. “She was able to do something that was so beautiful, it just uplifted all of us.”
Watch Maddie's mother, Sharon Babineau, tell her daughter's inspiring story and how she used her last wish to help others.
Editor’s Note: Readers looking to learn more about Maddie’s foundation can visit www.maddieswishproject.com.