Written by Rachelle (Lavalier) Strasburg, mother to Maddy
My daughter, Madeline Lavalier, was born with Spina Bifida along with other congenital abnormalities. Every day, Maddy seeks to defy the stereotypes in her path and creates connections with everyone she meets. At 12 years old, Maddy has seen more surgeries, procedures, and clinic visits that most adults but she doesn’t ever let it dampen her spirit. She has a contagious and uplifting spirit. She has a way of drawing people in. She becomes friends with people almost immediately after meeting them. When kids see her and say things like, ‘Why can’t she walk?’ — she uses the opportunity to tell them about her spina bifida (a condition that affects the spine). She believes that God has given her a voice for a reason — and she wants to use it. She’s active in Girl Scouts, Pageant of Hope, she wants to help other kids live THE best life that they are able. She has so many dreams that usually involve some helping someone/something.
Because of her personality and voice, Maddy has done a lot of ambassador work for Gillette Children’s. Her first major one was being a patient ambassador for their first-ever Walk and Roll 3K. She has a great time being on camera and talking about her different life. Actually, because of being in front of the camera so much, she’s started modeling and has gotten a few Target jobs. The most recent was modeling their adaptive Halloween mermaid costume, which was fun! Over the summer, she also met with congressional staff such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith, Rep. Angie Craig, as a patient advocate to discuss the importance of specialty health care systems in our lives. Madeline’s future is full and bright. She is a hero and inspiration to her family and friends.” – Rachelle (Lavalier) Strasburg, Mother to Maddy