This year, more than 100 kids will be riding in Courage Classic, including former and current patients, along with their siblings, family and friends. Almost half of Team Madelyn is made up of children. We are so inspired to see kids helping other kids, as future generations learn what it means to give back and be a part of a larger community.
“If we can continue to have lots of kids do just a little, we can really make a big difference and even save lives,” said 8-year-old Jayce Ballah, the youngest rider on Team Madelyn that rode in the 2017 Courage Classic.
Team Madelyn united three years ago to support 9-year-old Madelyn, who has had a complicated medical history. When she was one year old, she received Flight for Life transportation to Children’s Colorado from her small town of Yuma, Colo. – nearly 150 miles away at the easternmost part of the state. After a week of tests and treatments, she was diagnosed with esophageal varices, where blood flow to the liver is blocked. This begins to back up, increasing pressure within the large portal vein that carries blood to the liver.
Since that first Flight for Life, Madelyn has had bloodwork, ultrasounds, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and more than 25 upper endoscopies. She needs access to good quality health care, which is why her family has been so grateful for Children’s Colorado. “The care that we’ve received at Children’s Colorado is phenomenal. The way that the whole facility is run and every single person you meet makes your day better for both the kids and the parents,” said Madelyn’s mom, Meredith.
To support the work at Children’s Colorado, Meredith and her husband, Collin, and their good friend Matt started Team Madelyn. Over the years the team has grown to five families, including 15 team members, seven of whom are kids, all close friends and family of Madelyn. Next year Madelyn’s younger brother will ride for the first time.
Every year they all stay in one big house in Copper. They cook dinners together and make it a big family event. Over the years, the youngest team members have stepped up more and more to support Madelyn. Several have done bake sales to raise money for the team. Madelyn designed and sold team T-shirts. Altogether, Team Madelyn has raised more than $9,000 this year and fundraising stays open until August 31.
“I think it’s huge to teach our kids to look around and notice other people,” Meredith said. “We can get so self-centered sometimes, but philanthropy helps kids be more aware and also less afraid of the world around them.”
Two of the riders, Jayce and his sister, Kylee, 10, send out regular fundraising letters to family and friends with updates about Team Madelyn. Last fall, they started a sugar cookie business called “Kookie Fairy” to benefit Children’s Colorado. The “Kookies for Courage” feature an airbrushed Balloon Boy logo. Since October they, along with other kids on the team, have baked and sold more than 4,000 cookies in their little town and its surrounding communities.
“I'm not sure there's anything more inspiring than watching an incredible group of kids fundraise, train and ride for other kids at Children's Colorado,” said Krystal Ballah, Jayce’s mom.
This year’s Courage Classic was a milestone for several kids on the team. Madelyn was well enough to ride for the second time. Courage Classic is also particularly special for Jayce, who has Anhidrosis, or the inability to sweat. Although Jayce cannot play sports, he is able to cycle with repeated breaks, cooler mountain weather, and lots of hydration, making Courage Classic his big athletic event of the year.
“There are always tears of joy at the finish line,” Krystal said laughing.
She believes that you never know when you might need Children’s Colorado, and when you do, it affects your life in such a profound way that you can’t help but be inspired to support the excellent care patients and families receive.
“Children’s Colorado has been so special to our family, Madelyn and her family, and communities all across Colorado,” said Krystal.