MONROE, Ohio (FOX19) - The Monroe community honored a 12-year-old girl who recently died from cancer with a special sunset tribute Tuesday.
Madison Smallwood, who lived in Monroe, has been an inspiration to many people.
“She has put up a fight like I’ve never seen someone put up a fight," said Lori Smallwood, Madison’s mother.
Madison’s fierce strength and determination knew no bounds. Despite fighting a disease that was trying to take her life, Madison soared for the sky. After being diagnosed with cancer, she started living life in the fast lane by marking things off her bucket list. She met Fiona the hippo and was named prom queen.
Madison beat the odds and overcame obstacles time and time again. Her relatives said she never gave up, even during her last days.
She passed away on June 25.
“Part of me is still in denial, like I feel like she may walk back in that door, and I know she won’t, and I have moments of breakdown, and I just have to take a moment, step away," said Lori Smallwood.
The 12-year-old’s cancer journey started on July 16, 2015. On that day four years later, her loved ones gathered together at Lake Lyndsay in Hamilton to cry, laugh, and celebrate the life that Madison lived. Through photo displays, shared memories, and lit lanterns placed on the water, they honored a girl who was little in size, but big in heart.
“She’s won the hearts of many people in the community, and she has just inspired us to live every day to its fullest," said April Gerken, a family friend.
Madison’s family wants to shine a light on the need for funding for childhood cancer. They hope to help others by starting a foundation in Madison’s name.
“I want to start a foundation in her name that’s specific to osteosarcoma," said Lori Smallwood. "Childhood cancer gets four percent of the funding, and I have said this from day one, our kids are the future, so why are we not putting more than four percent into childhood cancer research.”
Madison’s family is encouraging anyone who wants to donate toward childhood cancer research to consider donating to one of the following organizations:
It is clear that Madison left a lasting impression on dozens of people, including some she knew and others she did not. Madison’s message to them rang loud and clear at the event on Tuesday: take life one day at a time and make the most of it because what you have today may not be here tomorrow.