MONROE, Ohio (FOX19) - A year ago Thursday, Madison Smallwood died after courageously fighting cancer. On the anniversary of her death, her closest friends and family members kept her legacy alive through memories, acts of kindness and by planting flowers.
Madison Smallwood’s life was cut short by bone cancer on June 25, 2019. The days that followed her death have been filled with a mixture of hearty laughter and grief-stricken tears.
Her mother, Lori Smallwood, admits that every single day is a struggle.
“No parent ever wants to lose their kid, and no parent wants to lose their kid to a childhood cancer,” Smallwood said.
Despite the sadness that has crept into their lives, Smallwood and her son, Landon, are dedicated to keeping Madison’s memory alive. They started by creating care packages for cancer patients. This month, they asked everyone they know to partake in ’25 days of kindness.'
“Helping a neighbor bring a trash can in, buying a coffee or a tea or something, just helping someone,” Smallwood said.
On Madison’s “angelversary,” Smallwood planted seeds she hopes to see spread throughout Monroe.
All day on Thursday, people stopped by Madison’s gravesite at Mound Cemetery, not only to visit, but to pick up potted sunflowers, which were Madison’s favorite.
“I’m hoping as I drive through town and stuff like that, I’ll see a lot of sunflowers that will make me stop and really think that ya know she did give a lasting impression. She made a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” Smallwood said. “I know she’s looking down from heaven and loving every minute of it.”
The pain of losing a child can be unbearable, but Smallwood says she is on a mission to make a difference for Madison. In the future, she hopes to establish a foundation, and she continues to be an advocate for more funding for childhood cancer research.
“Kids deserve more than four percent, and that’s all the funding that they get is four percent, and they are our future," Smallwood said.
Being at Madison’s grave can be difficult, but Smallwood says it beautifully represents the message that Madison left behind — her day-to-day motto: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Those who live out of town or were unable to go to the cemetery on Thursday were asked to pick up their own sunflower seeds and plant them.
Smallwood says she plans to make it a yearly tradition.