FORT WAYNE, In (WOWO): Being diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disorder at the age of three would be crushing. For the past 8 years, 11 year old Maddie Dean of Fort Wayne has been treated for juvenile dermatomyositis at Riley Hospital for Children.
Maddie was honored at an 11:00 ceremony in Mayor Tom Henry’s Office with a surprise proclamation from Mayor Henry, declaring February 27 “Maddie Dean Day” in Fort Wayne. Riley Foundation President and CEO Liz Elkas announced just prior to Mayor Henry’s proclamation, that Maddie was selected to be the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Indiana Champion – representing Riley Hospital for Children.
In her recognition of Maddie, CEO Elkas noted that Maddie’s disease makes playing outside and even spending time outside for extended periods of time nearly impossible. However, Maddie has committed herself to finding joy in things that she can do indoors, specifically, music and art. Maddie creates artwork and sells it to raise money for Riley. Her Facebook Page, “Masterpieces by Maddie” features her work. Elkas said one of her favorite works of art in her office is a painting of a Cardinal on a branch that Maddie gave her.
Maddie delivered an address to nearly 50 attendees, and praised the doctors and nurses at Riley, crediting them for saving her life and working to get her medication exactly right for her. Juvenile dermatomyositis is a rare and incurable disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Maddie doesn’t see herself as someone who needs help. Instead she sees herself as someone who can use her disease to help others – according to her pediatric rheumatologist Dr. Susan Ballinger.
Maddie had a message for other children who may be sick or hurting. “Don’t give up hope”.