The Ottumwa Courier

September 25, 2013

A different kind of baby gift

By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Finding a baby gift is tough when the newborn is in danger. So friends of the Ross family have decided to ask the whole community to pitch in.

“They knew before she was born she was going to have surgery,” said Tom Shafer about baby Maddie, the little girl who was born needing an operation to repair her heart.

Shafer said since that day nearly six months ago, Maddie has had three further operations.

“The doctors didn’t tell them until just recently,” he said, “that they didn’t expect her to survive the first surgery.”

They were frightened enough, Shafer said, and his own heart went out to them when he heard what the couple had been going through.

There is good news, however: Maddie has been improving. But Shafer and other supporters worry that Mom and Dad, who both work at the YMCA in Ottumwa, are getting hit with bills beyond what a family should have to bear alone.

“We would like to raise a pot full of money for ‘Miracle’ Maddie and help the family with all of the unexpected expenses,” Shafer said. “The medical insurance doesn’t cover everything, and the mom is off work taking care of the baby.”

Friends of Maddie are planning a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Luckily, Shafer said, those friends involve Dizzy the Clown, who will act as the host of the event.

The fundraiser will run from 4:30-7 p.m. on Oct. 14 (a Monday evening) at the Ottumwa YMCA.

“She’s a fighter,” Shafer said of the baby. “This kid wants to be with us. She doesn’t know to quit, that’s for sure.”

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark