Family gives back after charity helped them through medical emergency

A month ago, a 16-year-old Kennewick girl was left fighting for her life after a medical emergency. Now a local fitness group is helping the family raise money to give back.

The fundraiser is a thank you to the Ronald McDonald Foundation for helping the girl’s family out.

At 16, Maddy Golphenee is like a lot of other teenage girls. Her mom, Katherine Golphenee, said she runs on Kennewick High school’s track team, and she’s already getting ahead by taking classes at Columbia Basin College.

“Everybody loves Maddy. She’s like a mom figure,” said Golphenee. “She’s always been so tall, so people always think she’s older than she is, kinda like takes people under and just a very sweet girl.”

For the past year-and-a-half, Maddy has been spending a lot of her free time at Die Empty CrossFit. She’s found a second home for herself there. Owner Jeanine Ruby said she fits right in.

“You’ve seen her blossom into this young lady who was really shy at first come in, and then just for everybody to just take her in under our wings, and to see her grow,” said Ruby.

For the past couple of months, Maddy hasn’t been to the gym.

“Maddy had a medical emergency earlier this year, a life threatening reaction to medication and almost lost her life,” said Golphenee.

Maddy was found unresponsive for more than 15 hours, and had to be life flighted to Spokane. Golphenee said it’s a miracle her daughter is alive, and she’s getting better each day.

Golphenee said she feels grateful the Ronald McDonald Foundation covered her accommodation.

“They provided a room to shower, a living room, free food for three weeks for us,” said Golphenee.

She said she got to meet other families there who were struggling with similar issues.

“It was just a really great thing to have for parents. I had no idea anything like that existed,” said Golphenee.

When Ruby heard what happened, she thought the gym could band together and show their support.

“CrossFit is all about helping each other. We’re one big family, and when someone is in need of help, we’re going to do anything we can to help them. Whatever situation that might be,” said Ruby.

Their goal is to raise $5,000 for the foundation.

“It’s been the best thing just having that support,” said Golphenee. “I felt really loved and it was really nice to have everyone come together for us.”

Maddy is back in school now and working on catching up on the month of work she missed.

People can drop off donations at the gym at 3180 W Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick. They’ll be hosting a workout fundraiser this Saturday and Maddy will be there. All of the proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald Foundation.