TOPSFIELD (CBS) – When seventh-grade English teacher Peter Wilson told his class about the “Power of One” and asked them to help someone in need, he could never have imagined the Masconomet middle schoolers would plan a massive carnival.
On Sunday the students, joined by a local Girl Scout troop, hosted a Tri-Town fair to raise money for 9-year-old Madison “Maddie” Santosuosso of Topsfield. Maddie was diagnosed last fall with a rare form of sarcoma, a cancer that quickly spread to her lungs.
“It was somebody (who) needed help, and we had the means to help, so how could we not?” said 13-year-old Alex Jean of his motivation for getting involved.
In March, classmates began holding after-school meetings to plot how they could raise money for Maddie’s family and her treatment.
Maddie is the oldest of four kids. Her parents are aggressively fighting her cancer with the support of neighbors who have done everything from bringing the family meals to organizing softball tournaments and benefits at a skating rink.
Maddie’s body is currently tumor free, but there’s still more to be done to help her family.
“All of today is about helping Maddie and we wanted to do it in a fun way because it’s to help a kid,” Girl Scout Whitney Spater explained. “It’d be really boring if we did it in a way that only appealed to adults.”
While the Masconomet students were busy asking businesses to sponsor a bake sale and auction, Spater’s Girl Scout troop was also thinking about Maddie and her love for hockey. The Girl Scouts wanted to find a way to help Maddie play hockey when she got well. Teaming up with the older students, the girls decided to provide entertainment for what would become Maddie’s Carnival.
The carnival, held at the historic Gould Barn, featured local musicians, games, a dunk tank, massive bake sale and silent auction, as well as a chance for visitors to send someone to “jail” for bail money. The middle schoolers promptly issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Wilson citing the violation as “giving too much homework.”
A local photographer also took pictures in a photo booth. The pictures will be sent to Maddie in a slideshow.
Maddie was unable to attend because she is still undergoing treatment. Her family sent a lengthy thank you message posted inside the barn. Though the day was all about Maddie’s courage, it dramatically showcased Topsfield at its finest – when kids are in control.
“The whole town is pitching in,” said Girl Scout Uma Bhuju. “They didn’t even have to come but I feel like we’re all really nice to each other and we’re like a big team.”
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