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'A gift from God:' Anonymous donor helps local teen get her robotic arm

Maddy Workman has been working hard for the past year to raise funds for a JACO arm that costs $40,000. Thanks to a stranger she has achieved the goal
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An excited Maddy Workman shows her $23,000 cheque on Oct. 5. Supplied photo

Thanks to an anonymous donation a Guelph teenager with quadriplegia cerebral palsy will finally be able to get the $40,000 robotic arm she has had her eyes on since January.

On Oct. 5, when Maddy Workman was home from college for reading week, her mom Danielle walked in the house and saw Maddy and with two family friends laughing and crying, their eyes filled with disbelief and joy.

“Then they showed me this cheque and I'm like ‘what? That's a lot of zeros. What is going on?’” said Danielle. 

It was a cheque for $23,000, the amount remaining on Maddy’s GoFundMe campaign to raise the $40,000 to pay for her JACO robotic arm.

“I just cried. I stood there crying,” said Maddy's mom.

Danielle said the cheque was from a total stranger who messaged Maddy on GoFundMe stating that he was present at the community fundraiser at The Wooly Pub in August and wanted to help her further by dropping off a cheque. 

So Maddy gave him the address and in less than 45 minutes, he was at the door. 

“He knocked on our door, he asked for Maddy, handed it to Maddy and said ‘just please enjoy your life. Consider this a gift from God,’ and then walked back outside of the house,” said Danielle. 

She said Maddy and the two friends chased him out the door thanking him, hugging him and asking him what they can possibly do to pay him back. 

“He just said ‘I just want you to live your life and enjoy it. You deserve this and I've been very blessed and very fortunate and I know what a difference this will make for you.’"

Maddy was ecstatic.

“Thank you to the sun and back to my anonymous donor for believing in this life-changing technology and making my escape to freedom and independence become a reality,” said Maddy in an email. 

She said she just cannot stop imagining all the things she will be able to do, — which she struggles to do now — some of which are basic things such as picking up a fallen object. 

“I’m really excited to have one great working hand,” said Maddy who is currently in the process of receiving a wheelchair funded by a provincial assistive devices program that will be compatible with her JACO arm and is likely to arrive before Christmas. 

Danielle said the person did ask for one thing and that is to remain anonymous. 

“And literally he is, because I don't even know who he is,” Maddy's mom said.

“I hope this man knows how absolutely loved he is. Not because of the financial contribution, not that I'm dismissing that, but for what it took for him to do that because of what it is. Six weeks after the event that sat with him. Six weeks.” 

Maddy learned about the arm in January and it wasn't until May when she set up a GoFundMe page.

She said the aspiration for the arm was a quality experience itself where Maddy baked cookies with her grandma and sold them at horseback riding stables, painted art and auctioned them, held fundraising events to raise awareness all while remaining positive and full of hope. 

“At first, as a mom, I just wanted to make this happen for her, you know just snap my fingers and say ‘here you go. Here is this incredible life-changing device that will change your life’, but the experience for her of doing this herself is priceless,” said her mom. 

She said she has no idea who this person is but sends love toward him every single day knowing that with his help, the arm will increase her daughter’s sense of safety and independence.

She said from what she can gather of the information relayed to her, the stranger was really impressed with the arm itself along with the sheer motivation and determination of young Maddy. 

“I mean I’m biased. I'm her mom but shes been lighting this world since the moment she existed and continues to be this shining light and I get to be her mom,” said Danielle. 

“You know in some ways, I feel like she's always been a miracle. Honest to goodness, a truthful miracle. And all faith and religion aside, I've seen this light in existence and the miracles that continue to come to her. Always," Danielle said with tears in her eyes.

"The way she just defies all odds and not just makes things happen, but the love that is just blessed and graced around her.”