The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 27, 2013

BAF fund created to honor Maddison Faith Bennett

— Maddison Faith Bennett was born on Dec. 5, 1999, in Beckley at Raleigh General Hospital. “Maddy” to her family and friends, she experienced a loving home.

Her parents, Brent and Amy Bennett, exemplify strong family values. Maddy’s older sister, Brittney, now 19, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in June 2012. Younger brother Riley will be 8 in April; he is in the second grade at Hollywood Elementary School.

Maddy started playing soccer while still in elementary school. In August 2011, a sports physical lead to the discovery of a heart murmur, and further testing revealed cardiomyopathy. She had to quit soccer.

On March 12, 2012, Maddy was stricken in the school hallway. She was a sixth-grader at Park Middle School, a varsity cheerleader, a friend to many, a model of good conduct, and an exemplary student. In 12 short years, this young lady touched the hearts and lives of many others.

Ali Bass, an older friend and neighbor who sang at Maddy’s memorial service, is currently a student and cheerleader at Woodrow. She commented, “Not only was Maddy an amazing person, she was an amazing friend, too. She was smart, funny, sweet, loving and beautiful inside and out. Maddy was everyone’s friend, and we will never forget what a wonderful person she was.”

A resident of the Sunny Acres area of Raleigh County, Maddy was a member of Oak Grove Christian Church. Always interested in children, Maddy attracted the younger siblings of her friends. Without encouragement from others, she volunteered to work in the church nursery and was scheduled to start in April.

Her love of babies and toddlers contributed to her desire to become a pediatrician. She was also a strong advocate for her brother Riley and did not want anyone else to reprimand him. She was known to stand up for students who were perceived to be “outsiders” or “underdogs.”

Maddy loved cheerleading.

How do we deal with such an unexpected death of a loved one? Susan Landis, executive director of Beckley Area Foundation, said. “Maddy’s mother, Amy Bennett, has repeatedly told us that this worst experience of their family’s life has shown them that we live in a loving, caring community. She has been touched by how both friends and strangers reached out to them, helping with words and deeds.”

And so, Maddy’s family and friends have decided to create a lasting memorial in the form of the “Maddison Faith ‘Maddy’ Bennett Memorial Scholarship Fund” at the BAF. They are utilizing BAF’s “Building over Time” option which allows donors five years to contribute $10,000 for the permanent endowment. A pass-through gift will allow a scholarship award to be made before the fund is fully built.

Recipients of the merit- and need-based scholarship must have attended Park Middle School for at least two years. Applicants who were members of the cheerleading squad at Park will be given preference.

Anyone may make donations in any amount to help reach the required minimum; BAF has already received nearly $4,500. Donations are fully tax-deductible. Also, a limited number of West Virginia state tax credits are available for donors who contribute at least $500.

Maddy cheered for everyone else; let us now cheer for her. Make checks payable to BAF-Maddy Bennett Fund and mail to Beckley Area Foundation, 129 Main St., Suite 203, Beckley, WV  25801. Call 304-253-3806 for further information.