Jefferson Award winner, October 2016: Maia Beirne

OREGON (WKOW) — At just 16-years-old, Maia Beirne is helping countless families battling cancer. 

"Help as many people as I can and reach out to as many people as I can so we can just help make a difference and help brighten their days as much as I can. They go through so much." 

Last year was a big year for Maia.

She moved to a new town, began classes at a new school and started a new club there to help families battling cancer.

"I just hear so many stories about people being affected by it an I just really wanted to be able to help them."

Even though she was new to Oregon High School, it didn’t take long for other students to show her support.

Her adviser, Brian Bothwell says, "Our first meeting we have over 50 people sign up."

Through fundraisers, Panthers Vs. Cancer started making a difference for local families.

"We sold cookies and hot chocolate to raise money for tie blankets for kids in the children’s hospital," says Maia. "We also got involved with Relay for Life last year. We sold candy bars to raise money for their cause and we also participated last summer, we had a team that participated."

Now, they’re making meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Madison whose kids are getting treatment.

"These meals really provide that family time that they would be doing at home, but they’re doing here now," says Director of Marketing Shauna Thayer.

Parents like Janelle Young, who’s son, Ian, has dozens of hospital visits every year, appreciate the students giving them a home away from home.

"It’s heartwarming to have other students see Ian for the kid he is and to be willing to help out and put their time in."

Maia was also recognized by the United Way of Dane County last year for her volunteer work, which actually started years ago in Green Bay.

"I helped teach swimming lessons there," she says. "I went to the daycare and volunteered there and it was really cool. I also volunteered at a hospital in Green Bay, too."

She really inspires those around her to be better people, to think about others as opposed to themselves and just the type of person that you want to be around and you want your kids or your students to be," says Bothwell.

Once Maia graduates, she’s hoping to pass on her passion and the reigns to a younger generation, including her sister.

"It feels really good to know that what we’re doing is really helping other people," says Maia. "You know you’re doing good, but when you see it, it’s just a feeling that you can’t really describe."

Maia hopes to continue her work helping others as a profession. She wants to study to become a doctor specializing in infant care



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