Maddie’s Big Heart Foundation Gives Back

Maddie's Big Heart Foundation will host a Park After Dark celebration for its annual fundraising event on April 17 at Kiwanis Club of Stuart

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Maddie’s Big Heart Foundation will host a Park After Dark celebration for its annual fundraising event, March for Maddie, on Saturday, April 17, at Kiwanis Club of Stuart. For this year’s event, the family-founded charity teamed up with Kiwanis Club to raise funds for the Kiwanis Youth Park at Woodlawn’s new Sensory Sensitive Garden Play Area. Part of the park’s large-scale renovation project, the sensory garden is geared towards children with autism and other sensory sensitivities.

The park will be beautifully transformed with hanging lights to set the scene for an elegant dinner party from 7 to 10 p.m., with catering by The Chef’s Table, live music by Zach Jones, a local artist donating work, live and silent auctions, and raffle.

About Maddie and the Maddie’s Big Heart Foundation:

Jeff and Malia Schramm with their daughters Ella and Haven
Jeff and Malia Schramm with their daughters Ella and Haven

Madeline “Maddie” Grace Schramm, was born on April 16, 2013 with a congenital abdominal wall defect called an omphalocele as well as a diaphragmatic hernia. The combination of the two abnormalities caused her lungs to be extremely damaged and underdeveloped. As a result, she developed a life-threatening condition called pediatric pulmonary hypertension.

After birth, Maddie spent several months in the NICU. She underwent three major surgeries and countless procedures, but at 6½ months old she defied the odds and came home. Although she lived 24 hours a day attached to a ventilator and a medicine pump, she learned to crawl, talk, walk, laugh, and dance.

When Maddie turned 2, doctors informed her family that her pulmonary hypertension was causing her heart to work as hard as it would running five marathons per day and that it had become extremely enlarged and was not working properly. On September 25, 2015, at 2½ years old, Maddie passed away.

To honor Maddie, her parents Jeff and Malia, created Maddie’s Big Heart Foundation and began a yearly fundraiser called March for Maddie. For four years, the organization hosted the walk to raise money to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Maddie’s hospital with a pediatric pulmonary specialist), Echo Hill Outdoor School-Heart Camp (a camp that donates one week of summer camp to children with pulmonary hypertension), and the Martin County Elks Therapy Program (provided Maddie with her twice weekly occupational therapy). The organization has raised and donated just over $100,000 since its inception.

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