On Thursday, March 24, the family of Madison Peterman will attend a session of the General Assembly in order to accept a proclamation declaring Friday, March 25 as Random Acts of Kindness Day throughout the state of Delaware. The proclamation was sponsored by Representative Bobby Outten on behalf of the Peterman family.
On April 13, 2009, Madison and her grandmother, Sandra Peterman, the wife of Representative Jack Peterman, along with Madison’s friend, Hannah Davies, were killed when a propane truck struck their vehicle just north of Milford. Mrs. Peterman and the girls were watching fire fighting efforts at the Hampton Inn on the shoulder of the road when the truck drifted onto the shoulder, striking them and causing the car to catch fire.
“Birthdays were hard after Maddy died,” Carrie Peterman, Madison’s mother, said. “Scot and I always made a big deal of her birthday, taking her out of school and doing something special. For the first four years after she passed, we would go to her gravesite with family and some of Maddy’s friends to release balloons with notes tied to them. When the fifth anniversary was approaching, I just didn’t want to stand at that grave and see the sadness in the faces of her friends, so I began trying to come up with something we could do to celebrate her life, not dwell on her death.”
A friend suggested performing random acts of kindness on Madison’s birthday since that was something Madison felt strongly about. Mrs. Peterman began posting on social media, challenging family and friends to perform random acts of kindness on March 25, 2014. From the first year, the response was overwhelming, Mrs. Peterman said.
“The support of the community and friends has been both overwhelming and humbling,” Mrs. Peterman said. “Over the past couple of years we have seen everything from quarters taped to vending machines with little notes of kindness to the Milford High School sidewalks being decorated by sidewalk chalk with words of kindness to donations to animal shelters, gift cards and flowers being handed out at random. Donations have been made to the Ronald McDonald House at A.I. DuPont.”
Mrs. Peterman said that people delivered flowers to friends last year, paid for the lunches of strangers, donated food to a local SPCA, donated blood, donated money to A. Little Veterinary Hospital to assist those who could not afford vet care and so much more. The event reached past Delaware borders last year with reports of random acts of kindness being performed as far away as South Carolina. Mrs. Peterman hopes that the event becomes a national, if not global, event in honor of Madison. Mrs. Peterman said that Madison had a white board in her room when she died that said ‘Love, Kindness, Hope.’ It was by this motto Madison lived. She said her daughter was very giving and the kind who loved Jesus more than anything.
The first year the Peterman’s performed random acts of kindness in Madison’s memory, Mrs. Peterman said that only people who were her friends could see the challenge. She said that she often hears of the negative aspects of social media, but it was through sites like Facebook and Twitter that the word was spread about her efforts to honor Madison.
“Friends saw my challenge and asked me to make it public,” Mrs. Peterman said. “I honestly think it went viral as I received comments from as far away as Canada and California.” Mrs. Peterman says the only thing she asks is that people share their random acts of kindness, no matter how small, on Facebook and other social media.
“This would have been Madison’s 16th birthday, so it is a tough one,” Mrs. Peterman said. “However, her spirit is carried on, not just by myself and family, but the many friends, not only in this community but many others. There is nothing more I could want as a mother than for my daughter to be remembered in such a way.”