A short life keeps on giving and educating in organ donations; latest is passage of ‘Maddog’s Law’

Even after her death at 18, Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier keeps on giving in organ donations, including the passage of “Maddog’s Law” to make it easier to register for donation.

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Frank Grobmeier with his late daughter, Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier, in the field. Provided photo

Frank Grobmeier with his late daughter, Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier, in the field.

Provided

Sound is Frank Grobmeier’s early memory of daughter Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier.

“When she was infant, I was sitting with her, holding her in my hand like a football,” he said. “She was like a delicate angel and all of a sudden she lets out this cry.”

With that, she was dubbed “Maddog,” a nod to former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux.

``When he took the mound, he looked so unassuming, but when he took the ball he was `Maddog,’ “ Grobmeier said. “And it is tough for me, because I am a Sox fan.

“We would be at these gymnastics meets and you would hear, `Go, Maddog.’ The name stuck and she lived up to it.”

She’s still living up to it, nearly three years after she died a day after her 18th birthday after an acute asthma attack.

“Maddog’s Law” passed the House on March 3, the Senate on April 6 and awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature. HB4696 allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to offer online hunting license holders the opportunity to be redirected to the First-Person Consent Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.

“To me, it is a real simple step: All you are doing is asking people to consider or reconsider it,” Grobmeier said. “As many times I can ask the question, the better.”

Grobmeier points to the success of similar legislation for outdoors-related licenses in Minnesota, first of now multiple states, and had 32,350 registrations in its first year.

I met the Grobmeiers at the 2019 Pheasant Fest. The South Cook County chapter of Pheasants Forever was across the aisle from the Sun-Times booth. I remember Maddie bouncing around with youthful energy with fellow gymnast Sara Wabi, now a freshman at Illinois State.

Sara Wabi and the late Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier, who were helping with the booth of the South Cook County chapter of Pheasants Forever across from the Sun-Times booth, showed their spunk during the 2019 Pheasant Fest. Credit: Dale Bowman

Sara Wabi (left) and the late Maddie “Maddog” Grobmeier, who were helping with the booth of the South Cook County chapter of Pheasants Forever across from the Sun-Times booth, showed their spunk during the 2019 Pheasant Fest.

Provided

“They were hunting buddies,” Grobmeier said. “When Maddie passed, I made sure Sara got her gun. All I asked is that she never forget Maddie and to take her dad [Steve] hunting once a year.”

More than memories remain. Three months before her death, Maddie survived a bad car accident. Afterward, she sat down with Grobmeier and his wife Cyndi, then made them promise if anything happened to her, they would donate her organs.

After Maddie’s death, Grobmeier met with his state representative, Tim Ozinga (R-Mokena), who sponsored HB4696. Sen. Christopher Belt (D-Swansee), a kidney recipient, sponsored it in the Senate.

“Rather than waiting every four years for their driver’s licenses, they renew their hunting license every year,” Grobmeier said. “If you give people the opportunity and ask them the question, you will get a lot more yeses.”

Local clubs, including the Southeast Sportsman’s Club and the Rod and Gun Club, helped.

Maddie, who graduated Lincoln-Way East in 2019 and was headed to Wisconsin-La Crosse on a gymnastics scholarship, was a member of Illinois Pheasants Forever Youth Leadership Council and helped found PF South Cook County Young Guns Group.

Seems apt that Maddog Strong Foundation, which her sister Sam is also active in, came out of Maddie’s life. The foundation educates youth and young adults in organ donation and has launched a high-school curriculum.

Maddie’s heart and liver were donated to one person. Her kidneys went to two people. Because of her asthma, her lungs went to the University of Chicago for study. Her corneas went to two people, one a 2-year-old. Her tissue, which can be banked up to five years, has gone to 10 people, one as far as Seoul, Korea.

“Every piece of it is a gift that allows her story to continue,” Grobmeier said. “A lot of times that means the end of a person’s story. With the donations, we look at it as a way to continue her story.”

More is at maddogstrong.org.

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