Empowering Hope & Healing Through Education
Empowering Hope & Healing Through Education
2015 was a rough year for Maddie. It was the year we nearly lost her. It was the year she developed seizures and kidney stones and at one point we even thought she may be near the end of her life. We have always fought to provide Madeline with unique experiences. Fun projects or outings for her to participate in because having special needs shouldn’t all be about extra doctors’ appointments and more equipment.
2015 was the first time we stumbled across Peach’s Neet Feet, a non-profit organization creating hand-painted custom shoes for children fighting for lives. There mission is to spread kindness and to empower other people to see past a diagnosis. Now, these aren’t just any old shoes with some fancy craft paint and layer of clear coat. No. Each pair of shoes, like each child, is unique. We of course applied for her shoes right away and because she was in such a medically fragile state at the time, the shoes arrived in just 4 weeks. They arrived in a normal Van’s shoe box wrapped up with a brand-new blanket featuring girls in all colors, shapes, and sizes dressed up as super heroes. A pair of white toddler size 5 lace up vans was what we opened the box to see. One toe was meticulously painted with Minnie Mouse while the other toe was painted with a large very sparkly bow, both with a hot pink background, offsetting each design. On the heel of on shoe was her nickname, Maddie done up in glitter hot pink paint. The opposite heel, a Seattle Seahawk logo with a pink bow in its hair because you just can never have too many bows. I can still remember the day I brought them to her. She was inpatient at Seattle Children’s and had just gotten casted for a right femur fracture and sadly was not able to even try them on. However, what I saw that day was something amazing. Since Madeline experiences everything through touch, I decided I wanted to make it extra special and let her have a tactile experience with her shoes. We spent nearly 40 minutes letting her run her hand over each part of each shoe, explaining to her what was on it. Her face lit up in an “oh my god mom” sort of way and to this day I cherish that memory.
3 years past and despite every obstacle in little Maddie’s way she overcame all odds. Not only did she continue to live but she began to grow and learn. Along with her growth came the outgrowing of things, including her Peach’s Neet Feet. Having a child who does not walk you would think a pair of shoes would be the least important thing however, this is quite the contrary. These shoes became a sort of badge of honor for Maddie, a talking point for people other than asking what’s wrong with her? Her super girl blanket, her cape, keeping her safe and going everywhere with her. Maddie’s shoes were a way for her to express herself and help people see that she’s just like any other kid who likes Minnie mouse, who likes to be a diva and wear big bows, and who loves football.
On a whim, I sent another letter to Peach’s Neet Feet. Thanking them for the incredible pair of shoes she had received years ago and seeing if they would paint her a second pair. They graciously agreed and even returned my email in record time. Several months past and with our busy schedules we had forgotten about Maddie new shoes until a teal package arrived on our doorstep. This time, we opened the package to find a box of converse. Inside an adorable light pink pair of toddler size 8 low tops. This time, painted with leaves from the plant that is saving her life, Cannabis, and on the side of the right shoes, the words hustle kindness with an adorable, of course glitter, bow. This pair brought me to tears. One, because seeing a “big girl” if you will pair of shoes for my daughter was almost unreal. Two, we should have never had this moment but because of generous people just like Peach’s Neet Feet who donated shoes, generous people donate medicine to help save Madeline’s life.
Every person, every organization, every random act counts. Our family built our company off the basic principle of teaching everyone that kindness and acceptance are not an option. That it’s ok to not be ok sometimes but that we must never give up hope. Organization’s like Peach’s Neet Feet, people like Madison Steiner, inspire, empower, and create change in this world.
To apply for a pair of free custom hand painted shoes for a child living with a life threatening illness or to help support their hustle kindness mission by shopping their store and visiting their website.