A nine-year-old cancer patient who has raised an astonishing £53,000 for charity is to become a global figurehead next week.
Maddy Harris will travel to America to help ring the opening bell at New York City Stock Exchange for Blackbaud's Giving Tuesday.
Blackbuad owns the online fundraising platform JustGiving, and Maddy was crowned the JustGiving Young Fundraiser of the Year last year.
The Stoke Goldington schoolgirl launched a huge campaign called Don’t Stare It’s Only Hair after she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of seven.
She had complained of back and leg pain and doctors discovered the leukemia had fractured her spine, said her mum Lauren.
“They sat us down and said the words, ‘I’m afraid Maddy has leukemia.’ We felt like our whole world had crumbled. We were in disbelief that something like this could happen.”
Maddy spent many months at John Radcliffe having weekly chemotherapy. Now, she has treatment at home in tablets and weekly bloods to check her levels.
Lauren said, “Seeing your daughter go through the treatment was absolutely heartbreaking. One of the hardest things was seeing her hair fell out. Someone’s hair is such a part of who they are and when Maddy lost her hair I felt like I had lost a part of her.”
But brave Maddy was not fazed at all – and asked to have her head shaved.
The family then came up with the idea for ‘Don’t Stare It’s Only Hair.’ They created a JustGiving page and started fundraising on social media by nominating people to shave. Those people could nominate others and donate.
Overnight the page went viral and the fundraising took off as football teams, schools and companies all braved the shave.
Lauren chose to raise funds for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, after she herself received support from one of the charity’s social workers.
She is now determined her fundraising total will break the £60,000 barrier by the time she rings the bell on Giving Tuesday.
“She is so determined and we really hope she can hit the next target,” said her mum.
You can help Maddy by donating here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bebraveandshavebegreatanddonate
Lauren said: “We are so looking forward to ringing the bell and spreading awareness for CLIC Sargent in New York and across the world.
“I’m so proud of Maddy for everything she has done and it’s such an honour to be there – I'm sure there will be some happy tears.”
Rachel Kirby-Rider from CLIC Sargent, said:“Maddy and her family continue to amaze everyone here at CLIC Sargent. We are delighted to hear she has this amazing and prestigious opportunity to ring the bell for Giving Tuesday and raise even more vital funds.
“Maddy is a superstar fundraiser and we hope her story inspires others around the world to support charities like ours this Giving Tuesday in any way they can. Your support means we can be there for children with cancer like Maddy and their families.”
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that was co-founded by Blackbaud in the USA in 2012. People around the world are encouraged to do something to support good causes and communities by volunteering their time, donating money, sharing skills or donating goods, food, or clothes.