Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Safety Harbor girl writes the book on giving

SAFETY HARBOR — Madison Jayanna was 4 the first time her mother discovered in her room stapled stacks of paper covered with stories and illustrations about her family.

By the time she was 7, Madison was a published author and a philanthropist.

Her fantasy book based on a special-needs child, Tripp McQueen, became the basis for a local nonprofit, Giving Foundation for Children. She and her parents raised thousands of dollars for the book's namesake, a Georgia boy with a brain injury. The foundation paid for a special-needs girl's visit with Winter the dolphin, helped pay medical bills of a child car crash victim and donated toys to homeless kids.

Today, Madison turns 8 — and the giving continues.

Instead of celebrating with a party where she receives gifts, the Safety Harbor Elementary third-grader is visiting Tampa's Shriners Hospital for Children this morning to deliver stuffed animals and puzzles to patients.

"It makes me feel very proud and happy," Madison said this week. "I have enough already, and I want to put a smile on other kids' faces too."

Madison's parents, Sid and Justine Jayanna, say their daughter's introduction to community service came unexpectedly.

Last fall, Madison, home on school break, said she was bored. Justine asked whether she wanted to write a book based on Tripp Halstead, a Jefferson, Ga., toddler whose highly publicized brain injury recovery Justine had been following on Facebook.

The real-life Tripp, an avid fan of Cars character Lightning McQueen, was left unable to walk, talk or eat without a feeding tube after Hurricane Sandy winds in October 2012 sent a tree limb on his day care playground crashing into his skull.

Madison penned a story about a sick race car whose family, friends and community help him heal by gathering around a Golden Hoping Tree.

Justine initially shared the tale only with Tripp's mom. But when she posted a page on the boy's social media page, followers urged her to have it published.

The quest for a printer who could transform Madison's handwriting and illustrations from white paper to glossy paperback revealed that incorporating as a nonprofit would help ease production costs.

Sales of the book (the first 100 of 2,500 copies sold bear a fistprint pressed onto the page by Tripp) quickly raised $10,000 for the boy's family.

"It's just overwhelming," said Tripp's mom, Stacy Halstead, 37, "because I worked full time and … and the fact that I have to stay home now with Tripp, that money is just so helpful."

The Halsteads have helped connect the Jayannas with other children in need.

The foundation donated $1,000 to a boy critically injured in a rollover car crash.

The family recently partnered with the University of Florida with plans to donate book proceeds to the school's research on babies born with brain injuries.

And Madison has become fast friends with Callie Truelove, an 11-year-old Gainesville, Ga., girl whose Williams syndrome has resulted in seizures, mini strokes, a weakened heart that eventually requires aorta replacement, sensory and gastrointestinal problems, allergies and mental delays that cause her to function on the level of a 5-year-old.

The Jayannas fulfilled Callie's wish to meet the dolphins at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and are sending her to Disney's Animal Kingdom in November.

"Our families just connected, and they've become our family," said Callie's mom, Tabitha, 43. "It's almost like you can see how (Madison) wants to make a difference."

Madison's parents, who say the venture has taught them about giving too, hope to take the message worldwide.

However, Sid, a 34-year-old information technology professional, hopes to spread awareness and services for special-needs children as far as his native India, where he said that community was nearly invisible when he was growing up.

And watching Madison, who was afraid to approach children in wheelchairs before meeting Tripp, interact with her new friends has inspired Justine, 30, to write the foundation's second book on the everyday lives of "supermoms" and their special-needs children.

Madison will act as co-author, providing questions from the perspective of a curious child.

Meanwhile, Madison — an aspiring author, neurosurgeon and tennis player who received a key to Safety Harbor this March, said she's working on a project of her own.

Between gymnastics, soccer and baseball practice, she'll complete her next book on stars and planets: "On Saturdays and Sundays, after homework."

Contact Keyonna Summers at or (727) 445-4153. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

For more information

• Madison Jayanna:

• Tripp Halstead:

• Callie Truelove:

Safety Harbor girl writes the book on giving 09/17/14 [Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2014 5:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Plan your weekend: Sept. 22-24: Buffyfest, Arcade Fire, Howl-O-Scream, Wanderlust 108 and 'Rent'


    Plan your weekend

    Pop show

    Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest: Pop culture meets pop music when the Florida Björkestra, a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes ground-breaking pop artists, on Saturday will play with eight vocalists for "Once More with …

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  3. Chris Archer, 25,000 Cubs fans and Tampa Bay's painful truth

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest ovation inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday night was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was returning for the first time since managing the Rays.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. A rendering of the Bucs' indoor practice facility.
  5. Poorly assembled 'Lego Ninjago Movie' waters down Lego movie franchise


    Well, that didn't take long.

    After only three movies, the Lego franchise is already a shadow of its original self, less irreverent and go-for-broke bricky. The watering down of an ingenious formula comes with The Lego Ninjago Movie, the sort we expected all along from plastic construction toys.

    A scene from "The Lego Ninjago Movie." (Warner Bros.)