In a year that gave us a global pandemic, social distancing, and virtual learning a 17-year-old high school student looks beyond herself.
"She's not afraid to back down from a challenge," said South Milwaukee High School Principal Dr. Jeffrey Fleig.
Madelyn "Maddie" McCarty became like a teacher. She inspired the South Milwaukee community to support those in need.
"At the beginning of the pandemic. You know, I thought I was a little sad my school was canceled, track canceled. I kind of just took a step back and I thought you know there's a lot of people who have a lot more problems than I do. You know people are losing their jobs, and they don't know how they're going to get through to their family," shares Maddie.
So McCarty raised money for South Milwaukee Human Concerns, a food and clothing bank that has served thousands of residents facing hard times. With a pandemic, the need is great.
Dr. Fleig recalls, "I got an email from Maddie that said, 'I'm thinking about doing this food drive for Human Concerns.' I said go for it. I'm thinking maybe she raised a couple thousand."
Maddie quickly learned a young girl from a small town can do big things with an organized GoFundMe page.
"It was really amazing, we had, you know, some people donate like Brian Anderson from the Brewers who ended up donating some money that we ended up raising over $16,000,"
"We collected over 2,000 food items as well," reports McCarty.
South Milwaukee rallied for the less fortunate.
"It was really amazing to see all the different people there was different school clubs different sports are donating. There's like little groups of elementary school teachers were, like, pulling their money and donating. And there was like teachers, administrators, and it was really incredible to see that."
Mom Deanna McCarty adds, "It wasn't like she got a bunch of big corporate donations. She really didn't get any of those."
McCarty is also strong in academics, getting a perfect score on her ACT.
Dr. Fleig recalls, "She got a 35 on her first on a practice test that we gave here and I kind of pulled her aside, they said, I think we need to go for the perfect scores. And I said, because it may open more doors for you, you know it's not really one point, it's different when you get a perfect score, I said so let's just see I said you're going to have doors open, that you don't know they're going to open. She said, OK, so about two months later, she got a perfect score."
Maddie's parents Deanna and Patrick McCarty teach at South Milwaukee High School. They say their daughter has always gotten high marks in compassion.
Deanna McCarty shares, "She loves animals too so that kind of translates over into people too strong. She's a vegetarian, and she has a strong feeling for animals so that's always been that way and she's just a natural thing she's just. She's kind and she's humble and she's just really like we talked about how lucky we were not to have to discipline our kids"
So, what's the secret to raising teenagers making the grades in class and in life?
Patrick McCarty explains, "I do think just supporting them supporting them in their own path to becoming a good student, I think is probably the best thing you can do, make sure that they feel cared for and safe and loved, and probably going to have a lot of success."
Maddie hopes to continue helping people as an adult. She says, "I would love to go to medical school someday and become a doctor. And that way you know I can help people,"
But parents let TMJ4 in on a few faults they find in their National Honor Society daughter.
"She likes to stay up late so, you got to get to bed... she takes an obnoxiously long shower," they laugh.
If that's the worst thing that McCarty's are blessed. And if Maddie McCarty is any indication of the youth of today, our country's future will pass a crucial test.