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10 Things Maddie Ford Cannot Live Without

Written by Amelia Jeffers

I met Maddie Ford after school one day for a quick interview - because that is when she could fit me in. The New Albany High School senior maintains an incredibly busy schedule. On Friday nights this fall, she could be found on the sidelines of every football game where she is a member of the varsity cheer squad. On the day of our meeting, she had just learned that she had been selected to be a varsity basketball cheerleader (she was thrilled, though her mom may have groaned slightly at the grueling schedule that would entail). She is a part of a competition dance group, an accomplished swimmer and Athlete Ambassador for Special Olympics, and she holds down two summer jobs: one for a food pantry in Westerville and another with the Eagle Summer Camp in her school district. When she graduates this spring, Maddie and her parents will have visited several college programs, one of which they are hoping could be a good fit.

Maddie is a typical high school kid, with one major exception: she was born with Down Syndrome. Her mom, Casie, described for me how specialists from the Childhood League Center (a Columbus-based non-profit that delivers early childhood intervention and therapeutic programs for children with disabilities) visited her home weekly during Maddie’s infancy. By providing resources, tools, and information to Casie and her husband, Nick, the Childhood League Center gave the Fords hope that their daughter could have a bright and full life ahead of her.

The Fords tenaciously worked to not only foster an environment that would allow Maddie to approach her life just like every other kid, but they have availed themselves of every resource that would help Maddie to become a young woman who is an active participant in her community, who chases her passions, and who is not limited or defined by a diagnosis.

Two of the most significant organizations that have impacted Maddie and other kids like her are the Childhood League Center and Special Olympics Ohio - the two groups that will benefit from the annual concert fundraiser known as Christine’s Christmas. Begun as a tribute to Christine Wilson, a Dublin resident and Ohio State student who lost her life in a tragic fire in 2003. Christine’s Christmas has raised more than $1M for central Ohio children’s charities, including more than $500,000 for the Christine Wilson Burn Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The acclaimed concert is not the only way to support this grassroots organization. To donate to Christine’s Christmas, learn more about the organizations they support, or to stay informed about their annual event, visit

  1. Dancing: I have been dancing since I was 5 years old at Broadway Bound Dance Center. This year I made the competition team for the first time.

  2. Singing: I have been in my church choir since I was little, and now I sing in the school choir.

  3. Performing: I have performed in Annie, Frozen, Legally Blonde, and Smokey Joe’s. I love being on stage and meeting new people.

  4. Ariana Grande: She sings all of my favorite songs, and she was the first concert I ever went to!

  5. Mac and Cheese: I eat mac and cheese whenever I can. My favorite is from Panera.

  6. Cropped Shirts: I try to wear them on a daily basis, but my mom doesn’t always let me.

  7. Chocolate: My favorite chocolate dessert is the Texas Sheet Cake from Hudson 29.

  8. TikTok: I love doing TikTok dances and post videos every day!

  9. Family: I love my family so much. We go on trips, bike, go to dinner, and play games. We call each other The Fun Bunch.

  10. Friends: I love my friends at school, cheer, and dance. I hang out with them at Starbucks.


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