Madi Navigates Her Next Chapter

For 90 years, Variety has empowered kids with the life-changing tools to thrive during childhood and beyond.

Before Madi and her family found Variety, they exemplified the struggles faced by thousands of families desperately searching for solutions to address their child’s basic needs.  

Madi’s family faced impossible choices, and since connecting with Variety, Madi has received crucial medical equipment, access to therapy services, and unique enrichment opportunities that have made a lasting impact. 

Now at 19 years old, Madi embarks on a new chapter of her life as she transitions from home to Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville to pursue a college degree.  

Madi’s physical challenges would have been a significant barrier to attending classes in person and fully engaging with campus life. With Variety’s help, Madi received a power wheelchair, ensuring she could navigate campus with ease and live at school with confidence and independence.  

“Without my power chair, being on campus would have been impossible.”

“I would have been forced to do online classes, which – as a social person – was something I really did not want to do,” shares Madi.  

Studying Secondary English Education and Spanish, Madi aspires to become a high school English or Spanish teacher. Her passion for language has been evident from a young age. In fact, she taught herself morse code in one night, studied Spanish for four years, and is currently enrolled in an American Sign Language course while also teaching herself Braille.  

For Madi, language serves as a gateway to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and expand her peer group. “I’m learning Braille because I’ve made three friends here who are blind. I enjoy making new friends, especially those in the disability community,” explains Madi. 

Naturally, Madi joined “New Horizons,” an on-campus student organization dedicated to disability advocacy. She serves on the executive board, ensuring the club’s social media and meetings are accessible to all. With elections approaching, Madi is gearing up to run for Vice President, driven by her commitment to fostering an inclusive campus community. 

Despite being a social butterfly today, Madi was once a very shy child. She attributes much of her self-confidence growth to years of participation in Variety’s Adventure Camp and Theatre programs. 

“Variety helped me do things that other kids get to do. After each camp or show, I felt more confident in myself and my abilities,” notes Madi.  

Her debut performance in the Variety Theatre production of The Little Mermaid in 2014 held particular significance for Madi. “As someone with red hair, blue eyes, and a disability, I sometimes felt excluded. So, Ariel felt incredibly relatable to me. It was a special show,” she recounts. 

Since then, Madi has been involved in over six Variety Theatre productions. Even now, she fondly recalls the friendships forged and memories created on stage. Whether it’s collecting fallen costume sequins or listening to soundtracks, Variety Theatre will always be cherished as a joyful part of her childhood. 

“I loved all the people I met. It’s a unique bond you make when you’re in a show together,” shares Madi.  

Madi knows that her years of involvement in Variety’s programs has played a significant role in her personal development.  

“At Variety, I would try new things, which normally I avoid because new things are scary!  Building that confidence before I started my first year at SIUE was very important,” shares Madi.  

Since the beginning, Variety has been there for Madi, providing the tools and opportunities to reimagine her possibilities.  

“Variety helped me be more independent. I can’t remember a time in my life without Variety!” 

With overwhelming demand for Variety’s transformative programs, kids like Madi rely on the generosity of our community to realize their dreams. Help propel us for 90 MORE years of impact by investing in Variety Kids today.  


Support Our Cause

Every dollar you donate stays in St. Louis to help make the most positive impact on the greatest number of children.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.