MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities community has a plan to keep the memory of a little girl growing.
Eight-year-old Maddison Mertz died this spring following a battle with a rare cancer. Doctors had removed tumors from the second grader’s neck, but they kept coming back.
Now, a neighbor’s vision will keep Maddison’s spirit alive.
“She was the most courageous, fun-loving kid,” Maddison’s mother Lindsay said.
The park directly across from the Mertz home in Victoria is a place Maddison enjoyed playing with her family and friends — and now that park will be renamed in memory of her.
“It’s going to be her name — when we look outside every day and see her name, and that’s amazing in itself,” Lindsay said.
The idea started with Mike Amundsen.
“When you keep someone in your prayers for that long, you kind of feel like you know them a little bit, even though we didn’t know them,” Amundsen said.
He watched as the community supported Maddison and the Mertz family through her journey with cancer — wearing pink (Maddison’s favorite color), with Team Maddison fundraisers, signs of support and buildings aglow.
Amundsen had a thought walking by the park one night after Maddison so bravely said goodbye to this world.
“I said I think that sign would be a little more appropriately named if it was Maddison Park,” he said.
So he started an online petition, and once it reached 27,000 signatures, he brought it to the Victoria City Council.
On Monday night, the council threw out traditional policy and unanimously voted right then in favor of the new name.
“Although it’s a little outside of our normal process, it was the right thing to do to approve it,” Victoria Mayor Tom Funk said. “The comment I made that night is there are times when government can actually work pretty fast.”
It’s a park that will forever be meaningful to the Mertz family.
“It’s just such a cool place that people can come and just reflect,” Maddison’s father Zack said.
It’s a place where Maddison’s younger sister Mackenzie plays, and where generations to come will laugh and be happy.
“As I tell our friends that come by the house and they ask, ‘How do you get by every day?’ And I just say she would want us to live, she would want us to have fun and make memories, because that’s what she enjoyed doing,” Lindsay said.
The city of Victoria will order the new signs. It should take four to six weeks to make. The Mertz family plans to have a ribbon cutting and celebration.