I first met Madison Holleran when we were thirteen and playing summer soccer with hopes of being recruited by Division I colleges in the not-so-distant future. I last saw her shortly before she turned 19, I now a Villanova student visiting an old friend who had chosen to run track for the University of Pennsylvania. Never in a million years did I think that would be the last time I would ever see her; in my mind, we were going to go through college together, graduate, and be close friends into adulthood.
Tonight, I am preparing to go to her funeral.
There is no limit to the number of positive words that can be used to describe Madison Holleran; she was a natural beauty, an inspiration, a brilliant ray of light in the life of any person she encountered. This has become more evident in the wake of her tragic death, as the number of people who have been affected by Madison's story seems to grow exponentially every time I glance at her Facebook wall. Why would someone so beautiful, so radiant, choose to end her life long before her time? Unfortunately, nobody will ever know for certain.
Several months ago, I decided to train for the New York Half Marathon that will be occurring in March. After the events of the past weekend, I have decided to dedicate my run to Madison, a girl who shared my passion for running and whose love and kindness knew no bounds. I will make all donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Madison's memory in hopes that her memory will live on in the hearts of all who were touched by her smile during her life or after her death.
Join me, and give Madison one last run.
1/23: Because of the incredible success of the fundraiser after just three days (and because I have until March to continue raising money), I have decided to raise my goal from $15,000 to $25,000. Thank you so much for the support!