Maddy Mania continues
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Bill Maddy and his family are running out of words to describe the support shown from the Hays community as he battles leukemia.
"Grateful, amazed, overwhelmed, humbled," Maddy said by telephone from his hospital bed at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
And that was before he learned the amount of money another group of Hays people earned at a fundraiser Sunday at the National Guard Armory in Hays.
In what organizers dubbed "Maddy Mania," nearly $3,800 went to the Bill Maddy Medical Fund at Stockton National Bank, set up to help the popular Hays teacher with expenses.
More will be added to that total from Smokin Co. BBQ, owned by Ryan and Brianne Sultzer, who both had Maddy as a teacher at Felten Middle School in the mid-1990s. The Sultzers set up their BBQ trailer outside the armory, with 15 percent of their sales going to Maddy's medical fund.
In December, a fundraiser at Taco Shop in Hays also brought in more than $2,000.
Maddy doesn't live in Hays. But he has been a big part of youngsters' lives in Hays for 20 years. And it shows.
"By far, our favorite teacher," Brianne Sultzer said.
"Everybody in this building wants to do what they can for Mr. Maddy," Carrie Silva-Thomas said of Maddy, a math and science teacher since 1993 at Felten, which was renamed Hays Middle School two years ago.
Maddy, a native of Stockton who raised his family in his hometown, started his career in education as a long-term substitute teacher at Felten.
A full-time job opened at Felten the next year. Maddy took it, and he has been there since.
His wife, Carrie, worked at a bank in Stockton, so rather than moving to Hays, he drove the 80-mile round trip every day.
Maddy learned Nov. 18 he had leukemia during a phone call near the end of the school day. He was told to be in Kansas City by early the next morning to begin treatment.
"It's kind of bothered me that I didn't have a chance to tell the kids," Maddy said.
"And now, after all this show of support, I haven't had a chance to thank them all."
No thanks is necessary, said Angie Tomlinson, one of the organizers of Maddy Mania, along with Silva-Thomas and Jennifer Patterson.
"Oh, goodness, we just want him to get well," Tomlinson said. "This is our way of thanking him, after all he's done for our kids."
Tomlinson helped count nearly 6,000 quarters from Sunday's paddle auction at Maddy Mania at the armory.
More than 50 businesses and individuals donated items for the auction, and 20 vendors were on site. Anyone spending $30 at a particular vendor received another paddle for the auction, thus increasing their chances to win.
Two photos of Maddy hung over a huge sign on the north wall that read "Mr. Maddy Rocks." All present were invited to sign their name, and the Maddy Mania team is planning to give it to him.
Linda Ficken, Maddy's oldest sister who lives in Wichita, attended the auction and gave folks an update on her brother, whose goal is to regain enough strength for a bone marrow transplant.
His improvement has been so great this week, Ficken said, he might get to come home by the end of this week.
Ficken said Sunday she hardly could wait to tell her brother about the auction. She and her other two sisters visited him in the hospital Saturday, but Ficken made sure she made it to Hays in time for the auction.
"He told me, 'If you see some kids running around there who look like they're middle school kids, give them a hug, because they are probably my students,' " said Ficken, who added visiting her brother is uplifting.
"Every time you go in his room, he has this big radiant smile, no matter how bad he might feel," Ficken said.
Maddy surely was smiling Sunday evening. He said he is appreciative of everything people in both Stockton and Hays are doing for him, and it's a positive contribution to his recovery.
"That support system really does make a difference," he said. "To have my wife here beside me 24/7, and all that people are doing back home -- talk about the true Christian spirit. I am so blessed."
* * *
Donations to the Bill Maddy Medical Fund can be sent to Stockton National Bank, 123 N. Cedar, Stockton, KS 67669.
Cards can be sent to Maddy at his home address at 809 N. First, Stockton, KS 67669.