The Maddie Fund is a non profit fund that was established in December 2019, in memory of Madeline Hart Pollard. At the age of 22, Maddie passed away after a terrible and heart breaking battle with bipolar depression. Maddie’s family created The Maddie Fund as a means of continuing to do the work that Maddie herself had begun to do and was studying to do - helping others who are suffering from mental illness. Through the generosity of family and friends, The Maddie Fund provides financial support for a variety of mental health and wellness organizations and programs that promote mental health and provide therapies and other forms of support for those suffering from mental illness.
The goal of this Maddie Fund website is to be a resource for individuals and their families who have been affected by mental illness and are looking for information and answers. We know the challenges that exist when you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness and we want you to know that you are not alone.
There are so many of us out here who have already or still are sharing similar experiences. We have learned that there are many great organizations and programs accessible online or in your own community that have the experience and resources to help you find relief and begin to heal. Our hope is that this site will help you to begin to find some of the answers and resources that you are looking for so that you can start to get the help you need now.
Maddie was a beloved daughter, sister, cousin, and friend. She was a beautiful, wonderful, and all-around awesome person. Intelligent, passionate, funny, hard-working, and deeply honest, Maddie loved to laugh and was happiest when in the company of family and close friends. Some of her favorite things included listening to music, painting, and doing things in the great outdoors, like hiking, skiing, and playing tennis.
Because of her own challenges with mental illness, Maddie was majoring in psychology and she was an active volunteer at mental health clinics. She discovered that the thing that made her happiest was helping others- so she had decided that she wanted to pursue that as her life’s work. Sadly, Maddie’s bipolar illness ultimately cut her life, her ambitions, and her work short. But we feel Maddie’s spirit with us every day and we know that she takes great joy in the work that The Maddie Fund and the organizations that it supports are doing for others who are suffering from mental illness. We, her family and friends, take comfort in the fact that she can and will continue to be helpful to others through the work of the fund. We are extremely grateful for all of you who have provided support to the fund and for those who are doing the wonderful work that the fund itself is supporting.
Maddie’s challenges with mental illness first appeared in her freshman year of high school, when she suffered from an eating disorder. With the help of a great program and a wonderful therapist, Maddie overcame her illness and enjoyed an active and generally happy high school experience. Symptoms of Maddie’s bipolar disorder began to be apparent at the age of 19 after her freshman year at Cornell University. The illness came on quickly and strongly and rapidly changed her life and that of her family and close friends.
Maddie’s bipolar illness was intense, but Maddie was a fighter and tried many different forms of conventional and less conventional medications and therapies to find relief. There never was any one “magic pill” that helped Maddie to manage her depression and manic episodes, but she did find relief in a variety of forms. We’re certain that Maddie would want us to share with you some of her favorite therapies and would encourage you to try these and other therapies to find what may “work best for you”:
1. Quality Time with Family and Close Friends- “No stress, no judgement, all support” time with family and close friends was really important to Maddie.
2. Group Therapy with People of Similar Age- Maddie found meaningful relief and encouragement from her group therapy sessions. Although she was a shy person, she really benefited from knowing that she was not “alone” in her condition and her symptoms.
3. Volunteer Work- Maddie really enjoyed volunteer work, and she truly shined while she was doing it. Being able to help others made her so happy- and it would take her mind off of “her own self” and her own suffering.
4. Walks and Hikes- Getting fresh air and out in nature on local walks or bigger hikes, usually with the dogs and her mom, provided a nice lift to the day.
5. Art "Therapy"- Maddie took an art (painting) class with her Dad shortly after her bipolar symptoms started to develop. She got hooked quickly and began to sketch and paint as a release. She found peace in art, it quieted her mind.
6. Pet “Therapy”- Maddie loved to be with our dogs at home (and on walks). Being with the pets clearly put her mind at ease and took her to lighter, brighter places.
7. “Structure” and Coaches- Having a routine and staying with it was always a good thing. Maddie was at her best when she was "busy" (but not over-scheduled!) and stayed with a regular routine. At different times, we found that “life coaches” and academic coaches helped to motivate her, pull her out of ruts and keep her moving forward.
8. Exercise- Maddie really enjoyed hikes, walks, tennis, and skiing. She would almost always feel better after being active outside or exercising at home or a gym.
Do you have a story about Maddie or a new resource you'd like to share? Please fill out the form below and we'll get back to you.