“This story, my story, became my pledge in honor of Madison when she died”
We initially established the Madison Claire Foundation when a group of friends pooled their own generous contributions and presented us with a gift to “do something in honor of Madison.”
We didn’t know what we would use the money for – there are so many needs for families and children living with a disability.
Then, one morning, I watched a story on one of the morning television programs about ‘inclusive playgrounds.’ I listened to the family being interviewed tell of a story similar to my own. No sooner did the reporter wrap up that I said to myself “that, that is what we can do with the money.” As I re-tell the story of the Foundation’s beginnings, I tell of the agonizing choice I made as a mother. When we went to our neighborhood playground, of course I brought Madison with us – her huge specialty stroller serving as a beacon of sorts at the edge of the playground. My two older, very able bodied and very energetic children ran screaming for the playground equipment. Though they demanded independence, my older children were still young – aged 5 and 3.
Another mother can imagine my pain as I had to choose: either to let my young children roam the playground alone, or to leave Madison, age two, alone in her wheelchair at the edge of the playground. The latter was an impossible choice, leaving my other children to fend for themselves was the lesser of two evils.
This story, my story, became my pledge in honor of Madison when she died – to help families who face the same daily challenges with disabilities to have one piece of their life that would be easy, or at least be made easier.
Every playground claims to be handicap accessible. But any parent of a disabled child, or disabled parent themselves, will tell you that accessible and inclusive can be entirely different. Madison’s Place will be the first fully inclusive playground built in the Twin Cities.
The Madison Claire Foundation has expanded its mission, originally to serve children and families diagnosed with SMA, to helping
communities better serve families and children living with disabilities by designing and funding inclusive playgrounds.
It became clear to us, as we set out to raise the money needed to build Madison’s Place, that by inviting participation from individuals, sponsors, and organizations; together we are creating a one-on-a-kind experience for all families.
We hope to break ground on Madison’s Place this summer, 2014, but we need your help to meet that goal. Please consider a financial donation, larage or small, and join the community in this gift of play.
Dana and Dave Millington