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Remembering Madison Devries, co-founder of Jump Ahead

May 11, 2020 • Erin Reitz • No Comments

Madison DeVries, a UNC junior whose many passions included being on the jump rope team, playing lacrosse and being an admissions ambassador, passed away on Friday, April 10, at age 20. [Read the full Daily Tar Heel article here.]

In 2018, DeVries co-founded Jump Ahead, an after school program that teaches children about jump rope and health education. Jump Ahead received a 2019 Carolina Center for Public Service Robert E. Bryan Fellowship, which allowed them to connect with community partners and purchase jump ropes.

“Maddie brought such a joyful presence to the Jump Ahead team and the whole APPLES Bryan Fellowship community. We know the Jump Ahead team and all of us who knew her will miss that presence in our lives,” said Ryan Nilsen, Senior Program Officer and Staff Advisor of the APPLES Bryan Fellowship.

Devries and the Jump Ahead team joined the Campus Y in 2019 when they became part of CUBE, the Campus Y’s social innovation accelerator, and received funding from the Kenan Biddle Partnership. During their CUBE residency, Jump Ahead conducted a pilot program for at-risk youth at Rashkis Elementary School that included jump rope workshops and healthy snack activities. This unique combination, devised by Devries and other public health students, aimed to promote more than just physical activity; the college students also explored topics like nutrition, self-confidence, and healthy relationships during their weekly clinics.

“Maddie jumped at any opportunity to support Jump Ahead and its mission, doing everything from writing evaluation reports to brainstorming ideas for how they could reach more underserved communities. She was eager to improve the lives of others,” said Jakelin Bonilla, the Campus Y’s Social Innovation Initiatives Coordinator and CUBE’s program manager.

The Jump Ahead team taste testing healthy snacks. | Photo courtesy of Noah Mancuso.

After their pilot program ended, Jump Ahead received positive feedback from parents, who were excited to report their children’s eagerness to jump rope and try new foods. The Jump Ahead team plans to reach even more local children in the upcoming year, ensuring that the compassion and passion that Devries devoted to the Jump Ahead community endures.

“Maddie was an integral part of our Jump Ahead core team, helping our organization expand with her vibrant ideas and keeping our members energized with her infectious laughter. She grew up jumping rope and was passionate about combining the sport with her public health interests to make a positive change in our communities,” said Noah Mancuso, a co-founder of Carolina Jump Rope Club and Jump Ahead. “We know that Maddie had a huge impact on everyone she met, so as we all move forward in these already challenging times, we want to continue to celebrate her life and energy.”

Mancuso and the Jump Ahead team are working with Maddie’s family to start a “Jump for Maddie” Memorial Fund. Stay tuned for more information.

Readers are invited to contribute their own words and memories about Maddie in the comment section below.

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