Maddie James Foundation Raises 920K for Memorial Seaside Learning Center

The invariable mark of a dream is to see it come true.

A few months ago, I posted about Maddie James, my friend’s friend’s daughter, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in January.

The Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California was one of Maddie’s favorite places, so to memorialize her life, her parents created a Foundation with the goal of raising one million dollars to fund the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. (You can view plans for the Ocean Institute expansion project here). At the time, raising that much money seemed like a pipe dream for the James family.

Sadly, a mere two weeks after I originally posted about the Foundation, Maddie passed away peacefully in her sleep. But, her spirit and dream lives on — the Maddie James Foundation held a gala and silent auction tonight, and I just read on Facebook that the Foundation was able to raise $920,000. Combined with personal donations (including donations from many Balloon Juicers and Angry Black Readers), the one million goal has been reached (as of a half hour ago.)

Thank you to those who donated, my heart goes out to the James family, and I congratulate those who worked tirelessly to make the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center a reality.

It’s quite an achievement.

[Maddie James Foundation]

[cross-posted here]

19 replies
  1. 1
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    Fantastic. And heartwarming. What a lovely tribute to Maddie.

  2. 2
    freelancer says:

    Glad to hear this. I can’t remember if I put in for this or not, but I’m good for another $20 at least.

    If you want to pull at the heartstrings rip the guts out of someone and have them, ,weeping, and grateful for it; forget Hallelujah. You gotta break out Antony and the Johnsons. No Joke. See what I’m saying?

  3. 3
    Mnemosyne says:

    That’s so great. I can’t help but admire people who manage to take a personal tragedy and turn it into something positive.

  4. 4
    SST says:

    I am so goddam tired of your raycess posts

    / whoops wrong thread
    / that’s very nice

  5. 5
    SST says:

    Also too: 7:13 pm in NZ and the world isn’t over yet. It’s not even raining! And we’ve had shit weather for weeks.

  6. 6
    Yutsano says:

    Out of darkest sorrow can sometimes come great joys. I hope her parents find solace when the center is complete. And they find a spot where they just know in their heart of hearts would have been Maddie’s favorite. And they reflect. And know a little girl made a big dream come true.

  7. 7
    Lysana says:

    What awesome news. Thanks for the late Friday mood-booster.

  8. 8
    wmd says:

    Well done!

  9. 9
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    This is excellent news! Speaking of good causes for kids with cancer, our son is donating his hair to Locks of Love. A friend of ours recently donated his and when we told our son that his hair is the kind that they could really use, he thought about it for a couple of days and told us tonight that he wants to donate his. He’s sixteen and has hair that is as blond as blond gets, plus it’s down to his waist. He’s 6′ 1″, so it’s quite the head of hair.

    My wife is scheduling his haircut tomorrow and we’re proud that he’s willing to give his head of hair up for kids who really need it. I’m taking a picture of it tomorrow for his photo book and there will be an after shot that goes in the book too. He knows that he can grow it back so it’s no big deal to him.

    We think that it’s good that he is thinking of others at his age, especially those in unfortunate circumstances. He has one damned thick head of hair, straight as an arrow and it’s long, long, long. It’s going to be strange seeing him without it as he’s been growing it out since his eleventh birthday.

    Great job on the fund raising, it’s for a good cause.

  10. 10
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    What Yutsano said is better than I could have expressed the same sentiment, which I share.

  11. 11
    eric says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: and for this you should sleep soundly and walk proudly because such heart and virtue does not emerge out of whole cloth…

  12. 12
    Ash Can says:

    Good news. Thanks for letting us know.

  13. 13
    danimal says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Dana Point is a beautiful area, and the next time I’m there, I’ll be thinking of Maddie and her amazing parents.

  14. 14
    hidflect says:

    Sorry to “speak” so miserably but the truth about cancer isn’t cotton candy and ponies. It’s every bit as bad as you can imagine. I had a girlfriend who is a nurse in the cancer ward of a major hospital that ranks in the top 20 in the world. She never described to me thee conditions of patients for months until one day she blurted out and told me that a large proportion of cancer patients are euthanised in their final days (depending on the cancer). I didn’t believe her until she described to me what terminal cancer patients look like… and sound like when the morphine doesn’t work any more. If you read about someone “passing away in their sleep”, now you know what that probably means. If you wonder how this could ever be kept a secret (as I did) I was told that (in a tone of scorn) even family members of die-hard religious types go begging to the doctor to “ease the pain” when they witness their loved ones sloughing black tissue so badly they can’t be turned anymore to stop bed sores. It’s all restricted activity in the locked-down terminal ward. No one talks about it after. Those doctors and nurses know. Some of the the family knows. I guess the politicians know… or remain willfully ignorant. Everyone will deny it if you ask them. It’s got to be the world’s biggest code of silence. I imagine it must be the same in every humane hospital with such facilities.

  15. 15
    cthulhu says:

    I had donated at the time you first posted this and again when Maddie had died. A couple of weeks ago I had wondered how the fundraising was going but didn’t bother to check up on it at the time – great to hear that they met their goal!

  16. 16
    liberal says:


    I imagine it must be the same in every humane hospital with such facilities.

    I thought the idea is that ethicists are OK with it as long as the purpose of the dose is pain relief, not euthanasia.

  17. 17
    ABL says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: that’s wonderful. what a thoughtful thing to do. looks like you’re raisin’ yer chilluns right. :)

  18. 18
    ruemara says:

    Congratulations, it’s a wonderful way to honour their daughter.

    I am not sure why you thought this was relevant to the thread. This is not about passing from cancer, it’s about making the dreams of someone else come true.

  19. 19
    Wendy says:

    ABL…I read your original story months ago and was moved by it but did not get a chance to thank you for your post. Of the many posted, it was one of my favorites. I’m the fundraising chair for the MJF. Raising $1M in less than three months is a sad testament to the fact that my friends are enduring every parent’s worst nightmare. Yes, it’s kind of a fairy tale ending to an otherwise heartbreaking story. But still…so very, very sad. Thank you for your support — it was appreciated by this mother of four who did, in fact, work tirelessly. :)

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