The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life has touched many in its fight against cancer, including 6-year-old Maddy Colatruglio.
Maddy has come together with her mother, Jamie, and grandmother, Becky Smeltz, to organize a Relay team, Maddy's Heart.
Maddy attends Calvert Catholic Elementary School. Even kindergarten teacher Melissa Fiala-Perry has joined the team.
Maddy’s Heart team members (back row, from left) Becky Smeltz and Joseph Colatruglio and (front, from left) Elisabeth, Madelyn and Jamie Colatruglio are shown during a kickoff event for Relay For Life.
"Maddy is an amazing little girl with big dreams and awesome ideas. Her passion for helping others is contagious," Fiala-Perry said. "When I found out about the team, I had to be a part of it."
Maddy came to her grandmother one day and said she wanted to start a "cancer team. ... Where you go and walk in the park and spend the night."
The team's journey began when two of Maddy's grandfathers and a grandmother were diagnosed with cancer. Maddy claimed "no one that she loved was going to be hurt by cancer again."
The team was introduced as part of the Tiffin Community YMCA's kick-off Dec. 9. There, Maddy raised more than $200 selling cancer ribbon-shaped sugar cookies.
"The fundraiser at the YMCA was amazing. Maddy helped to create her own booth," Fiala-Perry said. "Maddy is also designing T-shirts for the team."
The team has 15-20 members including aunts, cousins and friends, and the team continues to grow.
"I am in awe of this young lady coming out and raising money," said Deb Hilborn, American Cancer Society income development representative. "For a 6-year-old to know what cancer is and the effects makes me sad, but it also makes me proud that, at 6 years old, she is willing to take a stand to raise money for someone else."
Maddy's mother said she has always been the child who is concerned for other people and wants to be a better version of herself.
"I'm proud of her and she has done a great job with this. I am truly inspired to see her wanting to do something so big. I believe that she will accomplish big things in life," Jamie said. "I think that her interest now will affect other things in life that inspires her as a cause. I can definitely see her doing something that will help people as a career in one of the helping professions."
Before the Relay walk in May, Maddy and her team will focus on raising more money for the cause, with ideas such as a carnival-themed party, selling cookies and selling daffodils around Easter.
"I believe it will show her that she can make a difference," Fiala-Perry said. "I think she will always know she can do anything she puts her mind to, no matter her age. As she gets older, I believe she can draw inspiration from this for other ideas and projects that will help others."
To learn more about Relay For
Life, call (888) 227-2345 ext. 5204 or check out www.relayforlife.org/tiffin.