12-year-old cheerleader needs community’s help

July 3, 2013 

It seemed like an ordinary day when 12-year-old Maddie Martin went to cheer practice June 3.

But it would turn into anything but ordinary.

At practice, Maddie began to complain of a headache before collapsing. Before the evening was over, Maddie was admitted to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Atlanta where she has been ever since. Her diagnosis is an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

“Basically, it is where the veins and arteries in her brain didn’t form like they should have,” Bryan Watts, her stepfather, said, “and one has busted. She was born with it and never had any symptoms.”

Watts explained that the AVM is too deep for surgery, so when she is stronger Maddie will undergo a radiation treatment with a gamma knife to reshape and cauterize the arteries. It is unknown how long it will be before Maddie can have the treatment.

Maddie’s mother, JoAnn Watts, a teacher at Huntington Middle School, has not left her side since Maddie was admitted; her father, Travis Martin, lives in Florida and is spending a week on and off at the hospital while he tries to continue to run his own business.

A Facebook page (Prayers for Madison Martin) has been created with updates on Maddie’s condition posted by her family. An effort to remember to pray for Maddie every evening at 9 p.m. is underway as well as several fundraising efforts because the length of stay at Scottish Rite will likely be very extensive.

The Martin/Watts family has been overwhelmed by the amount of support that they have received from the community.

“We will never be able to repay all that has been done,” Watts said. “We will be forever grateful”

“Pray For Maddie” armbands are available for a donation of $2 from Kelly Cofield (397-9217), and there are two available T-shirt designs -- pink ones that say “Stay Calm and Pray for Maddie” being sold by Maddie’s aunt Wendy Cole (to order email prayformaddie@gmail.com; the shirts are $15) and aqua ones that say “Pray for Maddie” on the front and “We’ve got your back, Maddie” on the back of the shirt being sold by the Huntington Middle School cheerleaders. Information about the armbands and T-shirts is also available on the Prayers for Madison Martin Facebook page.

Aimee Bolinger, whose daughter Hannah cheers with Maddie at Huntington Middle School, is heading up the effort from the Huntington cheerleaders to sell T-shirts. “It just hits too close to home,” Bolinger said. “You think you have a perfectly healthy child, and then your world falls apart. Nothing matters more than your child.”

Huntington Middle School cheerleaders will be taking orders for the “We’ve got your back, Maddie” shirts 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Burger King on Russell Parkway. The shirts cost $12.

For those who prefer to donate money, accounts have been set up in Maddie’s name at the HEA Credit Union and SunMark Community Bank.

I believe in the power of prayer. Today, I am asking you to pray for Maddie Martin.

Stories such as Maddie’s strike fear into the hearts of all parents: a healthy child one minute, fighting for her life the next. Drop to your knees and thank God for your own healthy children and ask the Great Physician to heal Maddie Martin.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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