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February 10, 2017
Life-saving fundraising mission for Madi Ambos
As a person who always finds ways to give back to her community, Katherine Ambos, a Branksome Learning Strategies teacher, never thought she’d need to depend on others paying it forward for her daughter. But life has a funny way of coming full circle just when you need it the most.

So far $127,000 has been raised. Contributions can be made to boost this fund through the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe for Madison.
Even after Katherine’s three-year-old daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy—and she embarked on an intense and fearless mission to learn everything she could about the condition—she still kept on coaching athletes with disabilities in synchronized swimming.

While also raising her nine-month-old son Jack, Katherine writes a blog, Madi Moves, which focuses on Madison and her journey. The blog has a wide readership, capturing many people’s hearts as they read about the daily challenges filled with hope and inspiration.

“Katherine has always given so much, and, along with family members, has been involved in community fundraising events,” says long-time friend and Branksome teacher Danielle Ross. “For example, after Katherine donated part of her liver to save her mom’s life, she and her family dedicated themselves to raising awareness about the importance of organ donation. She’s done so much hard work. Now it’s our turn to help her.”

The Ambos mission
Katherine, with the help of her large family, is now applying their fundraising experience to raising enough money to send Madison for a major surgical treatment in the United States in April 2017. The surgery, called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, will greatly ease Madison’s stiff and weak muscles, muscle tremors and poor coordination. It has come a long way since its riskier origins, but it’s unfortunately not covered by OHIP.

While thrilled to find a surgery that could greatly improve Madison’s long-term prognosis, Katherine's facing her biggest challenge ever: the surgery is offered in St. Louis, and the month-long surgery and rehabilitation process will cost close to $140,000.

How you can help
“When Katherine found out about the surgery, we all came together as a family and discussed how best to get the word out,” says Emily Gregoire, Katherine’s cousin and aquatic’s coordinator at Branksome. “Our whole family has the mindset that once you put your mind to it, there’s never an option to give up. But that’s especially true for Katherine.”

Since the fall, friends and family members have headed up fundraising efforts for Madison’s surgery—inspired and encouraged by Katherine’s bubbly and upbeat energy. “Madison is a lot like her mom,” says Ross. “Always smiling.”

So far $127,000 has been raised. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” says Gregoire. “We are getting there.” Contributions can be made to boost this fund through the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe for Madison.

“To have strangers sending money and well wishes has been incredible for Katherine,” adds Ross. “She’s so touched by the outpouring of empathy from friends but also from strangers and their desire to make things better for people who are having challenges.”

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