The Maddie James Foundation

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Today’s post is a hard one for me to write.  As I am sitting here typing, tears are rolling down my face. Madeleine James has touched my life and my heart. I know she will touch yours too.

On a Friday afternoon just two months ago in January, Maddie was in her kindergarten class playing with friends and two days later, on that Sunday morning, she was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor and given 6 months.  Survival rate for this type of cancer? 0%.

Click here to read her story.

Maddie is a relative of my friend, Sarah, who writes the blog and so this story hits particularly close to home.

Sarah is one of those people that you meet and instantly love.  So authentic and fun and one of those people you feel like you have known forever.

When I threw out a request on Twitter this past fall asking if Sarah wanted to join our PCRF team to raise money for pediatric cancer, her support was immediate.   It was a “sure!” and then 5 minutes later she was registered on our team. That’s just the kind of person she is.

This was before Maddie was diagnosed.

When I got the word that Maddie was diagnosed with pediatric cancer, my heart literally broke into a thousand pieces. A five year old, beautiful girl almost the same age as my daughter.

I simply cannot fathom the depth of pain.

Sarah summoned the strength to write about Maddie here.  It is one of the most beautiful, touching posts I have ever read.  Written with such grace and honesty and honored Maddie in such a way that I really don’t know how she found the strength to write it.

Please take a moment and let her words touch you. Here is her post titled, “Madeleine.” You will need a box of tissues.

But in the midst of all the pain, what amazes me the most is that this family has found a way to take something so horrifically devastating and do something positive.

Her mother wrote here, in her story, that in the midst of feeling so out of control they realized there were two things they could control: making sure each day left with Maddie was lived to the fullest and do something to properly honor her.

One of Maddie’s favorite places in the world is the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.  She loves the ocean and the wonder of life under the sea.  When the family learned that the Ocean Institute is currently in the final phase of raising money for new oceanside programs and facilities to complement their existing Ocean Education Center they knew their mission was clear.

The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center would be possible with a donation of $1 million dollars.  The family is shooting for the sea stars and wants to raise this amount so that Maddie’s legacy and light will live on forever in a place she loves so much which is why they have created The Maddie James Foundation.

Again, I am crying.

I hope I get to take my daughters to The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center one day and teach them about the beauty of the sea and the beauty in humanity. I also want to teach them to take each day and treat it like it is our most precious gift, because it is.

If you are moved to help create this center, click here to make a donation.   Every gift helps.

Hug your little ones just that much harder today and every day.  And realize that this day is a gift.

Click here to like the Maddie James Foundation on Facebook . Follow @MaddieJamesFDTN on Twitter.


Maddie has further inspired our team to FIGHT for her
and all the kids affected by this horrendous disease by running and walking on May 1st as
Team Tiny Oranges to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.
If you would like to join us in this fight
please click here and “Join Our Team!”

Sarah is organizing a fundraising Boot Camp for March 19th in Costa Mesa as well.
Click here for details!


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  1. 1
    whoorl says:

    Jen, thank you so much for writing this touching post about Maddie. My heart is bursting from all of the love and support you and so many others have put forth for Maddie and her family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. xoxo

  2. 2
    Sharon says:

    I have never cried so hard for a little girl I have never met. I hope one day to take my children to the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. You are all an inspiration xoxo

  3. 3
    Pam says:

    The pain these parents must be going through is unfathomable and it\’s truly inspiring that in the midst of this they can turn to something positive that will be a testament of their love for her, and her spirit, for years to come.

  4. 4
    Jen says:

    I couldn’t agree more…to take something so painful and turn it into something as a testament of their love to honor her legacy is so inspiring.

  5. 5
    Collie says:

    Hi. This is Maddie’s daddy. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. Your words mean so much to Kajsa and me, and we are forever grateful for your help in spreading the news about our incredible daughter and the Foundation (and for giving my cousin Sarah the rich praise she deserves!). And to all your readers, a huge hug and thank you. Your prayers of strength and words of caring lift us up on the most difficult days. Your donations are simply magic. Thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.

    • 6
      Jen says:

      Collie – Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment. Your family continues to be in my heart and prayers. Your strength is awe inspiring and it will be an honor to watch The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center come to life to honor Maddie’s. Praying for miracles. XO

  6. 7
    Nikki says:

    Praying for this precious girl and her parents. I can’t even being to imagine the hurt that they are feeling.

  7. 8
    Lisa Henderson says:

    Dude……you’re killing me with this. My heart is aching right now. I made a small donation. Wish I was rich…..

  8. 9
    melissa says:

    Thank you for keeping us up to date on Maddie. I truly haven’t stopped thinking about her and her family. My heart goes out to them, and felt the only thing I could do was make a donation to let me them know the support they have in trying to make the Institute in her honor a reality.

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