Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Safety Harbor girl's birthday gift: Making others smile

In the lobby, a boy with his arm in a sling toddled away with a toy tiger.

In the prosthetics wing, a curly-haired brunet in a wheelchair opened her arms wide as she rejoiced to her mom about her new "My Little Pony" puzzle.

In the physical therapy ward, 7-year-old Chelsea Moore lifted herself onto her elbows to peer from her hospital bed into Madison Jayanna's bag of goodies. The Lakeland girl's shy eyes creased into a smile as she pulled out a wide-eyed black penguin she quickly named Waddles.

"Look Mama," Chelsea said after hugging Madison, who visited Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa to pass out toys on her birthday Thursday.

"Mama, this toy makes me feel better," said Chelsea, a day out of surgery on her right leg, which had been mangled in a riding mower accident five years ago. She rubbed the stuffed animal's fur, distracted from the pain as a therapist maneuvered her limb. "He has blue eyes," she said. "They're so sparkly."

Chelsea was among about two dozen patients and their siblings who received hand-delivered toys and hugs from Madison, a child author-turned-philanthropist from Safety Harbor.

The Safety Harbor Elementary third-grader, along with parents Sid and Justine Jayanna, run a nonprofit called Giving Foundation for Children. Since December, they've raised thousands of dollars for children with special needs, published Madison's Tripp McQueen fantasy tale based on a 4-year-old Georgia boy with a brain injury and are working on a second book about the everyday lives of mothers raising disabled children.

Several weeks ago, Madison approached her parents with the idea of a "pay-it-forward" campaign to donate toys on her eighth birthday. The family said they chose Shriners, which since 1985 has offered specialized treatment to more than 50,000 children up to age 18 regardless of ability to pay, because they like the hospital's mission.

"It's so meaningful to have a child like Madison, who for her birthday wanted to give back. It really brightens these patients' days who are going through surgery or other medical treatment," said hospital spokeswoman Jamie Santillo. "It just lifts their spirits and to see someone their own age giving back like that is amazing."

Madison said one of her birthday wishes — "to make a smile on kids' faces" — came true.

But she has another: To galvanize others, just as she was by the news story of a New Tampa preteen, who years after receiving a "pajama buddy" from a nurse before surgery, continues to donate toys to help ease the fears of young hospital patients.

Her message appears to catching on.

Madison's gesture was "really thoughtful," a beaming Tiffany Davis, 10, said, clutching a blue dolphin. "I feel really inspired by it."

Contact Keyonna Summers at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

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