Terminally Ill Area Teen’s Wish for Christmas Cards Sparks Global Support
Fourteen-year-old Maddox Hyde, an 8th-grade student at DuBois Area Middle School, was diagnosed eight years ago with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the adrenal glands. Recently, his family was given the news that Maddox had just weeks to live.
Following his terminal diagnosis, Maddox made a wish to fill his house with Christmas cards, and a campaign began via Facebook to reach out with that request.
Then, the power of social media took over.
As word went out, people started joining the Friends of Maddox Facebook group and spreading the word. Soon Maddox’s story began to hit the news, first with regional news sources, like Centre Daily Times, and then, as the cards began to arrive, other news sources picked up the story.
Jackie Green, a special education teacher for 5th and 6th graders in the small country town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri, made their local news after her students sent Maddox cards and letters that they created themselves.
Maddox has even been featured in Heavy.com, as well as both TrekToday and Bounding into Comics after legendary actor William Shatner took to Twitter to urge others to spread the word and join the campaign to send cards to Maddox.
There is even a page on the widely-known fact-checking site Snopes dedicated to verifying Maddox’s story.
With word spreading quickly across the globe, the mail began pouring in.
According to Deborah Franz, Postmaster for the Reynoldsville Post Office, she has personally seen cards and packages come from not only across the United States but also from across the globe, such as Denmark, Africa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Australia, to name a few.
“He’s been getting priorities and expresses, even from other countries. There’s definitely a lot of good in the world,” said Franz.
Franz said that the cards and packages are coming in every day, though the numbers vary.
She noted there might be 3,000 items one day and 8,000 items the next.
Recently, over 10,000 items arrived in one day.
“A whole cage came through just for him,” Franz said.
The postal employees are working to make sure that Maddox gets all of his mail, too. When they are making a large delivery, they call ahead to notify the family when they’ll be arriving. Although, there are also times when the family picks up the mail themselves.
“It is great, there’s a lot of caring people out there, and he’s getting his wish.”
“Maddox is an amazing young man,” his step-grandmother, Debra Andrews said.
“His strength and love for everyone he meets are so inspiring. He always smiles, he makes everyone feel special and reaches out to help everyone he meets. He is so special and we are very proud of him.”
The Friends of Maddox Facebook group has continued to grow, as well, with over 3,700 members from around the world.
ExploreClarion.com talked to some of the people who have joined in to make Maddox’s Christmas wish come true.
The stories shared express how easily things spread through social media, as many of the people had connections to the western Pennsylvania region, even if they lived much farther away.
Facebook post from Ally C. Ward
Sue Cresswell, of Florida
Sue, who previously lived in Pennsylvania, heard about Maddox through her soon-to-be daughter-in-law and not only sent a card but started spreading the word in Florida, as well.
“I know how hard it is to lose a child and grandbabies. My heart goes out to him and the family and others who are battling cancer,” she said.
Jacqueline Garvey, of Castle Rock, Colorado
Jacqueline, a former Pennsylvania resident with family living in Reynoldsville, got involved after hearing about Maddox from her sister who knows Maddox’s father.
Alaska resident Angela Cooper
Angela was born and raised in Pennsylvania; she is another friend of Maddox’s family.
She posted a photo and the following message: “Prayers sent your way Maddox From Alaska!!!!!”
Katie Mines, of New Zealand
Katie who moved back to her home country of New Zealand after residing in Somerset County, Pa., sent a card with the help of her daughter, Stella.
Steffan Hutchins, of Ft. Wainwright, in North Pole, Alaska
Former Brockway resident Steffan Hutchins decided to take things a step further.
He explained, “I also wanted to get my Battery involved to help meet Maddox’s Christmas wish.”
“Throughout the past week, I have had numerous Soldiers participating in creating a card for him. If I were to try and get a complete understanding of why I chose to and why my Soldiers are so willing, I would have to highlight the Army Values which are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.”
Liz Buechele, of Anacortes, Washington
Liz, another former Pennsylvania resident, has retained many of her Pennsylvania connections.
After a friend shared a post about Maddox with her, she also decided to get more people involved.
Liz is currently working at the Center for Happiness, a Social Purpose Corporation which seeks to “provide joy, growth, connection, and kindness to its patrons and anyone associated with it – as well as the local, state, national and world community.”
She introduced Maddox’s story and got the center involved at their annual “Friendsgiving” celebration, where all of those in attendance made cards which were sent out a short time later.
Redbank Valley Primary students created cards for Maddox.
Heather Conway, of London, England
Even those from farther away have discovered Maddox’s story through Pennsylvania connections in some cases.
Heather, who was tagged in a post about Maddox by a friend from Pennsylvania and decided to join in.
“I got one sent out within minutes,” Heather said.
Donna Littleton of Ocean City, Maryland
There are also some people sending cards from a distance that have met Maddox through different circumstances.
Donna met Maddox when he was staying at the Believe In Tomorrow House By The Sea, a respite home for critically ill children, where she and her daughter Hayley work during the summer.
“We met Maddox at Frontier Town the day before he left to go back to Pennsylvania,” Littleton said.
“We took his mom, stepdad, little brother, and Maddox out to the beach in the morning to feed the seagulls breadcrumbs and dig for sand crabs. You would never have known what this child had been through or that his time would be brief.”
“We bonded with them in the short time we spent together but he made such a profound impact on my daughter Hayley and I. He’s a wonderful kid.”
Walt Disney World employee Edward Oyala, of Orlando, Florida
After reading a post about Maddox, Edward decided to take an oversized card throughout the Magic Kingdom for cast members to sign.
Jennifer is a pediatric nurse who follows a number of young patients fighting cancer on Facebook. She heard about Maddox from another young patient.
“I have a daughter just older than him and a son just younger, so his story touched my heart,” Jennifer said.
Connie Prososki, of Iowa
Connie, a Nebraska native currently living in Iowa, also discovered Maddox’s story through the page of another young person fighting cancer whose page she follows.
“Some of these families ask you to follow other impacted families after their child passes.”
Connie also passed the word along to her family and friends, via Facebook, and brought cards to her workplace for her coworkers to sign.
Kylee McMahan, of Cottage Grove, Oregon
“I heard of Maddox’s story through a viral Facebook post that’s spreading,” said Kylee.
“A family friend shared it, and his story really touched my heart. I told my kids about him and they were elated to make him cards and pray for him.”
Shannon Patterson, of Sasebo, Japan
While the local, regional, and personal connections stack up, the reach of social media has taken Maddox’s story far beyond that, and strangers from across the country and the globe have taken note.
Shannon wrote on Facebook, “His story touched our hearts, so we mailed him a package the next day.”
Barb Buchanan, of Ontario, Canada
There are also entire groups taking notice of Maddox and his story.
Barb is a member of the KardXChange2018 Facebook group. One of the other members of the group discovered Maddox’s story through another Facebook page and shared it to the group, inviting the 300+ members there to join in.
“I immediately hand painted a card for him last night after I saw the post and I mailed it out today,” Barb said.
“I’m a mom of two boys (older than Maddox) and any stories about kids really touches my heart.”
Novelist Terry Pratchett once wrote, “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”
If stories truly shape people, then Maddox’s story, which has touched so many people and created such an amazing outpouring of love and support, has surely changed people for the better.
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