More than one-thousand people turned out at the East Lyme High School Sports Complex on Saturday to remember a little girl, her life, and her courage.
The family of Madeline Guarraia family organized this as a way to honor the nine-year-old and thank the community for its support through difficult times.
“Reminds me how loved she was and a mother wants nothing else than that,” says Amie Guarraia, Madeline’s mother.
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Madeline bravely fought cancer for five-years.
Sadly in the end there was no cure and she passed away earlier this month.
“I love Madeline. I knew her. She was a friend of mine. And she was such a strong fighter,” says Nina Pezzello of Waterford.
But along the way there was comfort in family, friends, and strangers.
“Madeline has inspired me so much,” says Mary Kate Mundell of East Lyme
Signs of support popped up everywhere, which some people brought to the football field. Madeline had even served as an honorary police officer.
While everyone could not attend the funeral, the family decided to celebrate her life, making sure Madeline was not remembered for how she died but rather how she lived.
“Nine years, we’re crushed. We have trouble going on without her but knowing she fit so much into nine years. You realize you’re celebrating the life of a full life lived rather than a nine-year-old girl. She was just so much more,” says Guarraia.
The family says the letters of encouragement for Madeline had been overwhelming.
Saturday was a chance for the first time to meet some of the strangers who had reached out to support the little girl.