Maddie Eisenberg saw the Facebook request asking for gift baskets for a silent auction and bowl-a-thon to benefit Operation Kidney for Devon Cooley Carter, a young mom in need of a kidney donor.
Maddie, 11, wanted to help, so she and her mom, Debbie, made a gift basket with a theme of keeping kids busy on a rainy day. It included movie tickets and books.
That was just the beginning.
Maddie then enlisted the help of her neighbors in FishHawk to bake and sell cupcakes during the FishHawk Ranch yard sale. She made poster boards to draw awareness to Carter's cause.
Eventually, she raised $625 for Operation Kidney to benefit Carter, and she continues to stay involved to help Carter draw awareness to her cause.
Her drive stems from a desire to help others and a determination to get others involved.
"If a kid can get involved, so can adults," she says.
This reminds her of a quote she read in school recently: "A small child shall lead them."
She had joined forces with others who share her passion to help Carter, including the Friends of FishHawk and the FishHawk Adult Softball League.
"This has been a moving experience for us as a family," says her mom, Debbie Cook Eisenberg.
Funds raised through Operation Kidney will help pay for the cost of a kidney transplant, insurance co-pays and donor expenses. It also will help set up a college trust fund for Carter's son, David, who is 11. This trust fund was another idea Maddie wants to see through. It is on hold while some of the finer details are being worked out.
For Carter, it has been a long, arduous process, but people like Maddie have inspired her. Her first pancreas and kidney transplant resulted in a kidney that did not take, so she is still searching for a live donor under the age of 50 with O positive or O negative blood and no history of health problems.
She is on dialysis for 12 hours every day. She also recently had to have three toes amputated due to complications with type 1 diabetes, which she has had since she was 2 years old. The diabetes is the cause of her kidney medical problems and poor eyesight. Her recent amputation has left her in a wheelchair.
Carter's Operation Kidney serves more than one purpose. Besides raising money for her own medical needs, she hopes to get the word out about organ donations throughout the county.
She wants people to realize that when they become an organ donor, they can save up to eight people's lives. Your license or state ID card will signify that you are a donor and that you have been added to the Florida Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.
On Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., the Tea Room, 1107 Lithia Pinecrest Road, will sponsor a charity fundraiser for Operation Kidney. The cost is $30 per person.
Carter urges people to come out, raise awareness for organ donations, have a good time, and meet her other inspiration, her mom, Sheri Cooley.
Teresa Slattery Amin can be reached at [email protected]