LeClaire girl chosen to be kid captain for Iowa football team

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 8:39 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - A girl from LeClaire is getting the experience of a lifetime this football season. Madi Ramirez was one of 12 pediatric patients of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital chosen to be a kid captain for the Iowa football team.

“I really liked meeting all the players, it was super fun and I got to meet Herky the Hawkeye” said Madi.

“Everybody is excited to meet you instead of like the football players, everyone is really excited to meet Madi and see Madi” said Madi’s mother Megan.

The Pleasant Valley senior is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

“She did lose the ability to walk, she lost the ability to crawl, she really couldn’t feed herself or crawl across this room a couple of years ago”.

At the age of 2, Madi was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy or SMA.

“It is basically a muscle wasting disease where her muscles deteriorate over time when she was diagnosed, they told us that there was no cure or no treatment, that she would probably die in her teen years.”

Nearly 15 years later there’s still no cure, but there are treatments.

“She can crawl I think she just has more strength in her legs than she did before, you can actually see her legs are growing and I think that’s muscle growth.”

A miracle for Madi and her family

“We have hope for the future and hope for that maybe as long as we can keep her going where she’s at that another new medication will be found or we obviously hope and pray for a cure one day.”

Until that day comes, every day will be filled with challenges

“A day with a special needs child is just hard, Madi needs somebody every hour she’s awake. She can’t get herself dressed, she can’t go to the bathroom by herself.”

But on kids day at Kinnick, for just a brief moment in time, all of the challenges seem to disappear.

“She got to meet all the football players, she got an autographed football.”

She even got to meet the head Hawkeye. Head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“He is an incredible guy who does so many things for the hospital. Not only monetarily but I know spends his time visiting children and doing that so he was very kind, talked to Madi for awhile he actually came back Madi wanted to give him one of her miracle for Madi bracelets and so we kind of forget we were kind of star struck a little bit I guess when we met him and so they went back and got him after he was done and he came back and Madi got to give him a bracelet.”

“He really liked the bracelet that I gave him, he said thank you and he said it was super nice of me to give it to him” said Madi.

While the experience was incredible for Madi and her family, the impact means so much more

“We’re bringing awareness to her disease, bringing awarness just to families, special needs families, and kind of what we go through on a daily basis” said Megan.

It’s a challenge most families don’t have to face, but also a blessing most families don’t get to recieve.

“We are blessed that we get to see the world and have that compassion and empathy for others, you know she’s taught us that so I think that’s made our whole family and anybody that meets Madi better people.”

Madi will be Iowa’s kid captain for the game at Wisconsin October 14th.