By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
After a four-year hiatus, the Madison Hornbuckle Children’s Cancer Foundation is back and ready to fulfill its mission of helping western North Carolinas families affected by childhood cancer.
“It’s for families who have a sick child that needs their house payment made, a car payment or groceries, or travel expenses,” said Norma Swayney, Foundation board member and Madison’s grandmother. “We’re here to take that spot so they don’t have to worry about anyone but their child. That’s something that’s off their shoulders.”
Madison, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), passed away in 2010 at the age of 11 from cancer. Information from the Foundation’s website states, “Madison saw the devastation brought about on families that have children with cancer and wanted to find a way to improve their lives. This Foundation is working towards that goal in Madison’s honor.”
The Foundation provides assistance to families in five western North Carolina counties including: Swain, Jackson, Graham, Cherokee, and Haywood.
Swayney said, “There’s an application that they will fill out and a doctor says, ‘yes, this child has this…’. Then we look and see what they need and come up with a plan to help them.”
She added, “We’ve got enough money right now to start helping because it’s been in there. But, we’re getting there. There’s money right now that they (families) could go on there and get the application, get it filled out, processed, and get help.”
The Foundation is currently planning fundraising events. “We’re just working on stuff right now to try to get things built back up because we used to have the walk the day of the parade for the Fall Festival. That was called the Chief’s Challenge. Michell Hicks (former EBCI Principal Chief) was a big part of that and if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have a foundation – between him and Turner Construction. But, we’re trying to work back up and get that started back, getting a float put back in the parade, and coming up with ideas for getting fundraisers started again.”
Swayney said community involvement and support has been there from the start of the Foundation and is very much appreciated. “It’s very important. You never know when your child is going to be diagnosed with cancer. Madison was full of life. She was a cheerleader, played basketball, gymnastics. Then one day she just got down in the dumps, complained of a headache and it went to brain cancer. Then it just went downhill from there. Just because you’ve got a healthy child out here and they’re active and happy, you just don’t know what’s going on in their body.”
Swayney says she thinks of her granddaughter when working to help others. “When we were in St. Jude, Madison didn’t look at herself as being sick. She looked at the other ones. She looked at herself as being very fortunate of being an enrolled member and she wanted to help them. She saw parents down there crying…that was her dream of helping other people. She looked at herself as being very fortunate.”
Swayney concluded by commenting, “If there’s anything that can keep a burden off of a family, that’s what she would want. It’s just really hard for people.”
To download an application, visit: https://www.madisonhornbuckle.org/