Madison lives in Gila, Arizona. She has a severe form of autism and because of that, many of the ordinary experiences of teenagers are out of her reach. For Mormon teen girls, earning the Young Women’s Medallion is an ordinary teen experience. The girls work for their entire teenage years to earn this medallion, completing a series of requirements starting when they are twelve and finishing when or before they are eighteen. For Madison, though, these requirements were impossible.
One day, Madison’s cousin was reading an article about some girls who helped a disabled teenager earn her medallion. She began thinking about Madison and wondered if there was a way she and the other girls in her congregation could help Madison earn her medallion. However, Madison couldn’t do most of the requirements, even with help. The girls decided they would earn her medallion in proxy. Each girl would choose one requirement to fulfill for Madison.
They talked to their leaders, who then talked to their own leaders to get permission. It was decided the girls could do this as long as they completed their own requirement for their medallion first and then did another one—or the same one twice where choices weren’t offered—for Madison. They couldn’t do it once and count it twice.
Some girls chose very long sections. One girl cooked dinner for her family for two weeks. Another read the entire Book of Mormon. Each girl did these things to help a girl in their youth group receive an award that is highly cherished by Mormon teens because it is hard to earn. They are publicly recognized for their accomplishments, and now, when the recognitions were given, Madison wouldn’t be left out.
One girl explained that the Savior had done something for all of us we couldn’t do for ourselves—He died for our sins—and so they were now doing something for someone else she couldn’t do for herself.
Watch the video and listen as the girls themselves tell you about their experience. Warning—it’s a tear jerker!