Supporters of a Libertyville High School student who succumbed to brain cancer last fall want to ensure her magnetic personality is not forgotten.
Junior Madelynn "Maddy" McInerney endured five brain surgeries during a two-year fight before dying at home Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
The youngest of five children, Maddy was well known for ignoring teenage cliques, labels and boundaries, and welcoming all into her sphere.
"They're kind of catty at that age. Maddy didn't do that," said Allyson Cayce, one of several family friends who organized the "Maddypalooza" fundraiser for a scholarship in her name. "She was a beautiful soul."
The event from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at CrossFit Freedom, 748 W. Park Ave., in Libertyville will celebrate her "amazing spirit, life and love of friends" with four bands and food for a $20 cover. Wristbands are available at LHS and Serendipity, 338 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Her dad, Dave, founded MaddysVoice, a not-for-profit organization to administer a $2,000 annual scholarship. The goal is $20,000.
"Its sole purpose is to fund a scholarship every year in Maddy's name for someone like Maddy, who shows her spirit, the incredible ability to bring people together, which is who Maddy was," he said.
McInerney recalled that in sixth grade, Maddy announced she was shaving her head for a St. Baldrick's childhood cancer research event.
'"I have a choice, dad. They don't,'" McInerney recalled her saying. She did it again in eighth grade, not knowing at the time she, too, had been stricken.
She had been having headaches, and tests revealed an orange-sized tumor. She had surgery and was cancer-free for 11 months. It returned as a glioblastoma, the same aggressive cancer that felled former Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau and with which Arizona Sen. John McCain is afflicted.
A cheerleader from sixth through eighth grade with the Libertyville Boys Club program, she also won a spot as a freshman at LHS. Her jersey was retired and hangs in the LHS gym.
Cayce said her daughter, Maggie, and Maddy were close friends since the first grade. Thirty girls would have called Maddy their best friend and many adults also would have her on the list, she added.
"She had an unusually big personality, especially for a young girl," Cayce said. "She would always say, 'I'm amazing.' She was suffering tremendously (but) she never complained."
Community members raised enough money for the McInerney family to visit Hawaii with Maddy for a Make-A-Wish trip to learn how to surf.
"The community supported us beyond any semblance of what you would expect," Dave McInerney said. The scholarship is a way of saying thanks, he added.
Maddy was one of four LHS-related deaths that weekend that included two students, a recent graduate and a retired staff member.
By the last month of her life, Maddy was in tears knowing she would not be able to graduate this year with her class. She wanted to die at home and the family allowed anybody to see her at any time. Cayce said the room often was full when she visited.
"She was more than a cheerleader," said Dave McInerney, choking up at the memory. "She was a lot of things to a lot of people."