CSD student gets surprise after storms devastate hometown

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Don’t go to UK, people told Madison Myers when she was trying to decide where to go for college. It’s too big. You’ll only be a number.

Madison thought those folks were wrong. And at the time, the Mayfield, Ky., native — who’d struggled with a swallowing disorder that affected her mouth and teeth — wanted to keep following her dream to go to Kentucky and major in Communications Sciences and Disorders.

She did just that.

Madison says she knew she made the right choice from day one. And now, as a junior, the 21-year-old has further proof.

You may have noticed that Madison’s hometown is Mayfield — one of the towns that was hit hardest by last weekend’s tornadoes. More than 70 people were killed in the storms, and entire towns and neighborhoods were destroyed. Thankfully, Madison’s family is okay. While the tornado missed their house (by less than a mile), it did destroy the family’s businesses.

“The storms affected my family by destroying their business, properties they own, and the loss of some vehicles,” she said. “This worries me because of the stress of cleaning up and having to rebuild everything. It will definitely be a hardship for my family.”

Then, her mentors and professors in the College of Health Sciences came to help. Advisors and officials spent days checking up on CHS students from the area, and once they heard of Madison’s situation, they got to work.

“They have reached out to me numerous times since the storm happened,” Madison said. “The CSD department and my professors, Dr. (Anne) Olson and Dr. (Richard) Andreatta, got together a gift basket for my family and me. This was such a generous act and means the world to us. I truly have the best professors and the best support system and am so blessed to be a part of this program. They truly care about my academics and me as a person.”

What was inside the gift basket? Maybe it’s better to ask what was not in it. Included were: snacks, gift cards, toys (for her 10-year-old brother), a gingerbread house kit, card games — all to help take the family’s minds off the reality of what happened.

“They want to make sure I have things to do with my family over the holidays,” Madison said. “This is something I’ll never forget — even after I graduate from UK, I’ll hold onto this memory forever. It will always bring tears to my eyes just thinking about how kind this act was during hard times.”

To be fair, no one was really ever supposed to know about this.

It was an email that Madison wrote to Therese Smith, Acting Associate Dean of Students for Rights, Responsibilities, and Intervention, that alerted people to the good deed. In the message, Madison said she hoped her professors would receive some attention.

“This was something that was not done for publicity or recognition,” said Richard Andreatta, PhD. “We did it because it was the compassionate and right thing to do for a student who is in our charge and who is hurting and grieving. Through all the shock of losing so much, this was a small gesture to simply let her know that we care about her and that we are here for her … and for all our students for that matter.”

Anne Olson, PhD, CCC-A, agreed.

“Like all the health care professions in our college, we care about our students,” Olson said. “We learned that Madison’s family businesses and vehicles had been destroyed during the tornadoes and that they were staying in a hotel because there is no power in their home. Madison told us that her family would probably be spending part of the holiday break with her in her apartment here in Lexington. We thought if we all pitched in with some festive holiday treats, we might be able to make the holiday a little brighter for them. We really just wanted Madison to know we cared.”

The message was received, loud and clear.  

“I chose my major because I love helping people, and this is a field where you truly change people’s lives,” said Madison, who aspires to be a speech therapist one day. “This brought me joy in one of my hardest times of my life and makes me and my family feel so good seeing how much they care about me here. I now feel like I can go to anyone in this department about anything and they will be there for me. They truly do treat you like family and want you to succeed.” 



In addition, if you want to help the cause, there are several ways in which to do that, too: 

If you have the ability, please feel free to contribute to this fund online: https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/14622-crisis-program
A fund to assist students is also available if you would like to contribute or if you know of a student in need: https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/10124-basic-needs-and-persistence-...

Other ways to donate include: 

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund 
American Red Cross 
redcross.org, 1-800-RED-CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999
United Way of Kentucky 
Blood Drives. To donate blood in your area: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/eligibility-req...
Volunteer in Person. Call the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management at 311 or fill out a survey at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/02e24e0e3ddd4d158a21aaf9a0973384