Nov 13, 2012 11:19 AM by Katie Stukey (Great Falls)
Madi Bell, a student at Loy Elementary School in Great Falls, has a smile that is infectious; her energy fills a room...and at 10-years old, she's an outstanding teacher.
Madi has cerebral palsy; despite being largely non-verbal and - like many of her peers - rather shy, she is also remarkably determined.
Her mother Kara said, "Madi teaches me perseverance. When she puts her mind to something, she will stick with it and not give up."
This particular journey of perseverance started with a yogurt smoothie. They were her family's favorite summer snack, and Madi was the first one to spot the "Rally For Recess" contest on the smoothie's package..
Kara recalled, "She insisted that she wanted her school to do this. I asked if it was so her school wouldn't have to do fundraisers anymore."
So it became Madi's mission to spruce up the playground at her school.
She turned to her iPad to get the project rolling, finding the Rally For Recess rules and a video from a school that had already won new playground equipment through the contest.
Loy's playground is old; it's full of steep steps and equipment not fit for all the kids.
When it came time to present the idea to principal Teresa Sprague, Madi wanted to take the lead.
Kara said, "For Madi, that is a huge deal because she wanted to do the talking and not have me do it for her."
Sprague said, "By far this is the most motivating and excited I've seen Madi about a project so it's just fun to watch her grow and mature and see her be so exicted and motivated by something like this."
Kara noted, "She is always working. And she wants to be like everybody else."
Truth is, Madi isn't quite like everybody else; she's incredibly brght and has the characteristics of a promising leader.
And whether or not this contest ends with new equipment at Loy, there's lessons to be learned all around.
Kara said, "I think that Madi will find that one person can make a difference and that she does have a voice and that people listen. We just have to listen with different ears. Right? We'll be proud no matter what."
The Rally for Recess contest is through the Danimals yogurt brand.
They heard about Madi's mission, and shared her story on their official Facebook page.
ONLINE: Danimals For Madi page on Facebook, which explains:
"There are 2 ways you can send me codes electronically. I have set up a group, "Recess for Madi". You can request to join this group and then message me with codes. Otherwise, you can e-mail them to me at Danimals4Madi@gmail.com."
Rally For Recess website