Birthday boy Ryan Maddock and his sister, Jordan, enjoy a private, family tour of Big Cat Rescue. Ryan declined gifts at his birthday celebration, instead collecting donations for the animals to present to Jeff Kremer, director of donor appreciation at the facility.
Published: November 8, 2010
VALRICO – Five-year-old Jordan Maddock was crying and wanted to help the sick doggies and kitties as she watched an emotional advertising appeal for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“She, of course, wanted me to whip out my wallet and call the number to donate,” said her mom, Shimon Maddock, an executive recruiter. “Jordan is extremely passionate about animals.”
Instead, mother and daughter discussed donating and looked in Jordan’s piggy bank, which held only a few coins.
“We decided to have her friends give presents to the animals at the local Humane Society instead, at her birthday, which we will celebrate in early December,” Maddock said. “It was my idea, but she jumped at the opportunity with zero hesitation.”
When Maddock and her son, Ryan, were planning his October birthday celebration, she told him what Jordan was doing for her birthday.
Ryan had become an ardent fan of Big Cat Rescue after having taken a field trip there a few years ago, so he was eager to give up presents in order to help that organization.
“My kids have never done this before and have never gone to a friend’s party where this was being done,” said Maddock.
She and her husband, Richard, an administrator and head junior varsity football coach at Durant High School, did not initiate this as a life lesson, but it inevitably has led to discussions about giving and sacrifice.
Jordan, Ryan and their parents talked about the ramifications of this decision. Maddock said they told them they would give them presents and help with the donations, but the total will not exceed what has been given in past years. “We don’t usually go crazy with gifts, anyway,” she said.
“I am proud to say neither of my children feels this is a sacrifice,” said Maddock. “They are so excited to be able to do this.”
Both organizations welcomed the offers. Volunteer Coordinator Ben Moehnert of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay provided a list of needed items, including cash and checks.
After Jordan and her friends indulge in birthday cake and ice cream at her December party at a Tampa restaurant, they will tour the Humane Society and play with the cats and dogs. Jordan’s picture will go in the organization’s newsletter.
Ryan celebrated his birthday with friends in September at Ace Golf Range miniature golf, and then he and his family took a private tour of Big Cat Rescue in late October.
Ryan presented a check for $170 to Jeff Kremer, director of donor appreciation at Big Cat Rescue. Kremer will place a large tile on a donor board to commemorate Ryan’s generosity.
The feedback Maddock has heard from her children’s friends and families has all been positive, she said. In fact, some parents said they want to steal the idea.
Maddock, who said her children have “kind souls and generous spirits,” called their actions “morally responsible, a good deed, a mitzvah, being a steward of God’s creation, selfless, generous, the list is endless and all are accurate.”
She said, “Both religions [Judaism and Christianity] are in our home, so both God and Jesus are in our home, but really all religions have this in common–do something for someone else (even four-legged ones) as often as you can–however you want to label it or whatever you want to call it. We really have not put this into religious terms in any way. Just doing something good. Period.”