Maddie Petersen was just eight-years-old when her first seizure struck.
The Grade 4 student from Langley was having a sleepover with her grandmother – the two were sound asleep when the night suddenly took an unexpected and terrifying turn.
“I could hear my mom screaming hysterically upstairs and calling my name,” said Petersen’s aunt Leanne Kinsman, who lives on the main floor of the Brookswood home.
After dashing upstairs, she recognized what was happening with her niece – she had seen it before.
“Maddie was convulsing and crying so I called 9-1-1… I grew up with friends who have epilepsy, so I could just tell she was having a seizure.”
On route to Langley Memorial Hospital, Petersen suffered another attack in the ambulance– this time she became drowsy and lost feeling in the left side of her body.
The numbness eventually went away, but Petersen was sent to BC Children’s Hospital for an MRI.
Her test results showed that Peteresen has a rare condition called AVM (arteriovenous malformation), which is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins.
Most aren’t aware they have the condition until they experiences symptoms such as a headache, or in Petersen’s case, a seizure.
Fortunately for Petersen and her family, a brain AVM can often be treated successfully. However, that means having to take medication to help have less seizures, an MRI every two years and a trip to the BC Children’s Hospital every six months to meet with a neurologist.
While the seizures still happen on occasion and could worsen when puberty strikes, Petersen – who is without a doubt one brave little girl –takes each one in stride.
“I know when they are going to happen and I know I will be okay,” she said. “I just hope one day they will be gone forever.”
In an effort to bring a little light to her condition – quite literally, and to raise funds for the BC Children’s Hospital, Petersen, along with the help of her aunt, have launched a fundraiser called Maddie’s Masons.
“I want to help other kids like me so they know they aren’t the only ones who have seizures –it really means a lot to me,” said Petersen.
The candles, which are all-natural soya based and non-toxic, come in a variety of scents, including French lavender, gingersnap, cupcake and mango. Each one is handmade by Petersen with a little help of her aunt – so far, all supplies have been donated.
“She’s really dedicated to this,” said Kinsman matter-of-factly.
“She puts the wick in the jars and ads the scents and cuts out all the little labels.”
In just one month, the philanthropic pair have sold 60 candles at four-dollars apiece. Every cent of the sale goes straight to the BC Children’s Hospital.
“The word is just spreading so quickly,” noted Kinsman.
“Were really excited about this!”
Petersen’s parents, Suzann and Blaine, couldn’t be prouder of their daughter who has already raised $240. Making the fundraiser a true family affair, they have been helping her sell and drop off candles.
Maddie will be in front of the PriceSmart Foods in Langley City on Friday, Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. selling her candles.
Anyone interested in donating supplies or purchasing a candle are asked to send an email to email@example.com or check out Maddie’s Masons’ Facebook fan page.