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  • How a young Minnesota Wild fan is working to eliminate bullying, one book at a time


    Maddie Kegley is a huge Minnesota Wild fan from South St. Paul. Growing up a hockey player — she’s a left wing (No. 7) and hopes to play for South St. Paul High next year — Maddie is already fulfilling her dreams of making plays on the ice. But she is also in the forefront of the fight against bullying.

    At 12 years old, she’s making a difference not only in the Twin Cities, but all over the country with her charitable efforts.

    Back in 2017 when Maddie was just 10 years old, Maddie started her Books Against Bullying program, which is a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention, the fight against childhood cancer, domestic violence and, of course, bullying.

    “[bullying] is just one of those things I just want to end and get rid of,” said Maddie. “Everybody should be treated the same, no matter their different traits or culture.”

    Maddie, an avid reader, collects new and used children’s books, as well as young adult fiction and non-fiction books, and sells them for one dollar each. All funds raised are used to support organizations that aim to help kids in need.

    In 2019, Maddie raised over $10,000. As a result, Dakota County awarded her the 2019 Public Health Youth Achievement Award for her efforts with Books Against Bullying.

    Maddie works with numerous organizations and nonprofits, but perhaps her favorite to work with would be the Shine A Ligh7 Foundation, started by former Penguins and Sharks defenseman Paul Martin. Martin, a native of Minnesota and former Golden Gopher, has become very close to Maddie over the years, and their charitable efforts have helped spark a rather unique relationship.

    “Maddie and Paul met when this all started and he saw some stuff she was doing on Twitter,” said Maddie’s mother Amanda. “He just really digs Maddie, he just thinks she’s the bee’s knees I think, and she feels the same way about him. So whenever they see each other it’s just lots of hugs and chatting about hockey and chatting about the charity and what they can do to raise money.

    “They don’t see each other often, but when they do it’s like two old buddies seeing each other after a long time and nothing’s changed. It’s like they’ve known each other forever. I think they’re two old souls that were meant to meet each other.”

    Martin isn’t the only player familiar with Maddie’s work. In fact, Maddie’s favorite player, former Wild forward Jason Zucker, has formed a strong relationship with the young philanthropist as well. Last summer, Jason and Carly Zucker recognized Maddie at their inaugural GIVE16 Honors event, which honors 16 organizations and nonprofits for outstanding work in the community.

    Zucker remains one of Maddie’s favorite players, but with the long-time Minnesota winger now playing in Pittsburgh, Kevin Fiala has taken over as her new favorite player on the Wild “because of his elite skill.”

    After taking a selfie with Fiala during practice, she wasted no time updating her profile picture on Twitter.

    Maddie made it her objective to donate $100 to a charity supported by a player on each of the NHL’s 31 teams. She’s already donated to Melinda and Erik Karlsson’s “Can’t Dim My Light” organization and Friends Colorado ambassador Gabriel Landeskog.

    Landeskog even had an autographed stick delivered to Maddie after she sent in her $100 donation.

    Earlier this month, Maddie finally donated to her 31st team. Fittingly, her latest donation went to none other than Wild forward Luke Kunin, who is an ambassador for JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research.

    With her 31st donation in the books, Maddie has hit the ground running on her next big objective. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Maddie and Amanda have paused the distribution of books in order to avoid the potential spread of the virus. So instead, Maddie is auctioning off the prized stick Gabriel Landeskog sent her in order to raise money for those struggling to put food on the table during the coronavirus outbreak.

    “She has always cared about other people and been really empathetic and worried about what’s going on with other people and what she can do to help,” said Amanda. “She is always thinking of other people over herself. She doesn’t ever ask for anything in return, and that’s impressive coming from a 12-year-old girl.

    “I’m just super proud. Super super proud.”

    If you’d like to learn more about Books Against Bullying, stop by their website! Also, click here if you wish to take part in the auction for her signed Gabriel Landeskog stick.

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