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Ask Me Why I'm M.A.D.

The following story was written by Ernie Vidovic as he participated in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program, Team 1, in Toronto in 2007.

One of the most special people I have ever come across was Maddie Babineau. Maddie lost her battle with cancer on May 15, 2007. Her courage, strength, and wisdom touched people deeply. Maddie’s smiles were contagious. She was known as the girl who gave away her wish.

Through the Children’s Wish Foundation, Maddie gave her one wish away to kids in Africa. By building a school in a rural community in the Maasai Mara, Maddie helped children receive the gift of education. She further raised funds to bring water to the community by building a well and continued to fundraise on her own so she could realize her ultimate dream of fully adopting this Kenyan community.

After the Team Management and Leadership Program Weekend in Newport Beach back in June 2007, I was inspired to create a run of some sort involving teens. It was my daughter, coincidentally named Madison, who suggested we use this run to carry on her schoolmate’s legacy. I loved this idea and created a Game in the World entitled “Run Like You’re M.A.D (Making A Difference)”. Through sharing, I immediately had two team members, my daughter and Maddie’s mother, Sharon Babineau!

This run has spawned an enormous interest within the teenage community and within the schools. I have a team of more than 30 people working at creating the magical event. People are literally showing up and demanding to join the team. What these people truly see is possibility –for themselves, their students, their families, and, most notably, for the children who live in poverty with no access to education or clean water.

Unbelievable results! Unbelievable conversations! Brian Melo, Canadian Idol winner is hosting the event. The Free the Children Foundation is our prime supporter. We’ll have press coverage on CNN and CBC programs highlighting Maddie.

It’s about being on a rampage for communication! And,the winning is easy. My game wins because it is not about me. For three quarters, I played small – as an identity.The second I gave that up, ridiculous results were produced. OUR event is planned for the first week in May 2008. It promises to have over 7000 teens making a difference and “Being” Leadership. Young teens, Maddie’s best friends, and teachers – witnessing people see themselves M.A.D. – making a difference – has caused enormous fulfillment in my life. All this and seeing my own daughter stepping into her leadership and excited about something so huge has left me in awe of the results. Speaking the words, being in communication, and watching it unfold just because I said so. Succulent!

Craig and Marc Kielburger published a book called “Me to We”. I am so clear on what that title means. WE are taking steps in the right direction. WE are making a difference in the world. I truly thank the Team Management and Leadership Program body and Landmark Education for allowing me the opportunity to grow into an individual that chooses to be ALIVE! I got my life out of this program and I got a relationship with my daughter in the most unexpected way! It’s the fulfillment of the reason I signed onto this program.

The time is NOW. Be the difference!

Who I am is a stand in the world for eradicating povertyand suffering in the world, and ensuring that every childhas the basic right to go to school. Making a difference iseasy – you just have to declare that you will be it, do it,and your word will build your world!

Maddie’s family hopes to see the dream of “Maddie’s Village” become a reality. To support Maddie’s wish to Adopt a Village, visit the site www.maddieswishproject.com which her family has created. Together, we can carry Maddie’s legacy forward and make her dream come true.

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