When the Musto family received news that their 5-year-old daughter Madeline (Maddie) had fallen ill with a rare inoperable brain tumor, the community never hesitated to join together and reach out.
The Musto family is originally from the North Country but currently lives in Albany. With many friends and family still living in the area, the community began scheduling benefits and fundraisers for the family raising money to help them with medical expenses, and show the family support.
“The community outreach was amazing,” Erin Musto, Maddie’s mother told MyABC50.com. “People helped and supported our family from the moment we found out Madeline was sick, and are still helping and supporting us now.”
Mrs. Musto continued, “As far as all of the benefits and fundraising efforts the communities in both Watertown and Albany have outdone themselves.”
In February Maddie Musto was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare inoperable tumor in her brain stem. Tragically Maddie lost her life just weeks after her diagnosis.
According to Mrs. Musto, community members, family and friends began to make the family meals, helped with her two other children, and assisted with making arrangements following Maddie’s passing.
Across Northern New York and Albany, benefits continued to be held and events scheduled to benefit the Musto family.
“They worked so hard and the outcomes have been wonderful. Not only did these benefits and such raise money to help set up a foundation in memory of Maddie- it brought all sorts of people together for fun filled family days- 'best day evers'. It makes me realize the connections and the family we have, and in all the bad stuff how loved and lucky we are,” said Mrs. Musto.
Following the outpouring of love and support from the Watertown and Albany community, Mrs. Musto told MyABC50.com that she is so grateful to each and every organization and individual community member that reached out to their family.
“We may live in Albany area now, but my home is Watertown. We are true blue Northern New Yorkers. We are so in awe of all the support everyone offered. Madeline may have been born in Albany, but man her heart was back home. She knew and appreciated a Lake Ontario sunset like no other, loved Thompson Park and the zoo, was a big fan of the Brown Mansion's playground and loved going out for ice cream. Northern New York’s support has made me love home more,” said Mrs. Musto.
All money raised has gone into a fund for the newly created Maddie’s Mark foundation.
“We set up the Maddie's Mark Foundation to make sure that money raised would put Maddie's mark on many families, communities and organizations. There will be a scholarship offered in Madeline's honor, something that will help a smart, creative and kind girl get to put her mark on the future, someone who understands 'best day evers'. We also want to take care of families with similar cards dealt, and offer them a chance to enjoy their time, with family trips, photographers, perfect birthday party, whatever that family needs to have some good memorable family time,” said Mrs. Musto.
Other goals for Maddie’s Mark is to create or help fund places where families and children can enjoy time with one another, including playgrounds, children’s museums and nature walks.
Mrs. Musto told MyABC50.com that those were the things that Maddie, Amelia, Lucy and her husband Matthew enjoyed doing the most.
“Our best days were simple. We also want to help organizations, that help families like ours, that help families with sick children go home comfortably and live their lives in the best most familiar way possible,” said Mrs. Musto.
Mrs. Musto ended the interview with MyABC50.com by sending a message to the North Country community, “We are so unbelievably impressed and thankful for the way you all helped us. We appreciate every prayer, every thought, every donation, and every gift. I don't know how to thank people. Please know we are blessed to have you all, our family is broken but all of these things make everything feel lighter, less heavy. I love knowing that you are all thinking about Maddie. Every time you remember a benefit, see a butterfly pin or sticker from the 5k race, or hug a Maddie's Elephant you think of our lovely. That makes our hearts feel a little better and our hours brighter.”