Hearts open for girl’s Valentine surprise
BY STACI WILSON
It started out as a mother’s simple request to her friends: Can your children send valentines to Madigan?
Madigan Gow, age 7, of Little Meadows, was scheduled to undergo her 12th spinal surgery on Valentine’s Day. Her mom, Valerie, thought it would be nice if she had some cards to open when she awoke in the hospital.
Madigan was diagnosed with progressive congenital scoliosis in 2006 just before her first birthday.
She now has titanium rods implanted on both sides of her spine that run from shoulder to hip.
The Valentine’s Day surgery, which was postponed, was to lengthen the rods in an effort to keep up with the child’s growth.
But the delay in the surgery didn’t stop over 2,000 valentines and over 50 stuffed animals from coming to Madigan.
The simple request found its way to Rachel Lampley of Delaware, the teenage daughter of one of Valerie’s relatives – a girl Valerie has never met in person.
From Lampley, a Facebook event was born and people responded to the request.
“It felt like Christmas,” Madigan said. “It felt good.”
Valerie described the outpouring of support as “overwhelming.”
When the mail first began arriving at their home, Madigan was intrigued by the beautiful red envelopes covered in hearts, Valerie said.
“I was trying to keep it a secret,” Valerie said. “I didn’t think that many would come. Then, the postal service just started knocking on the door to bring us the mail.”
And at one point, the mail delivery person made a second trip to her vehicle to retrieve all of the packages and cards for Madigan.
As the gifts and mail started to mount up in the family’s dining room, Valerie told her daughter, “This is all for you.”
“It was a good surprise,” Valerie said.
Madigan was allowed to open some of the valentines early – ones from her aunt and grandmother.
“All-in-all, it probably took five days to get them all open – with lots of paper cuts,” Valerie said. “It was just overwhelming.”
One card came from a person in Australia; others came from people around the U.S.; and many came from local residents and school children.
Madigan, who is homeschooled, opened one big, manila envelope and said, “Oh, Mommy, it smells like school.”
Valerie was also appreciative of the cards sent from the district attorney and sheriffs’ offices. “I thought it was nice that they each took the time to sign their own cards,” she said.
“How do you thank people for this?” Valerie asked. “We’re so grateful. “In a time when people are so hostile with political stuff, when you think there’s not much hope or goodness – I cry. I’m speechless. It feels good to know there’s so much love for a child.”
But Madigan still faces the surgery which is scheduled to take place within the next month.
And although Valentine’s Day has passed, she plans to take some of the love with her to the hospital to decorate her room and animals to snuggle with while she recovers.