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Cosby High Student Shines a Light to Help Others with a Special Birthday Event


Visiting Dignity Village, a homeless community in Portland, Oregon, motivated Madison Argyle to help others.

“I knew I wanted to go back and help them,” says Madison, a rising Junior at Cosby High School. “My goal was to bring supplies to help the homeless living at Dignity Village.” 

Madison collected donations for Dignity Village with the idea of delivering the donations on her eleventh birthday.

“There was a large group of people who went with us with cars full of supplies. When we got there, the homeless people who lived there were so touched that I would spend my birthday with them that they all pitched in and surprised me with some birthday presents,” she says. “Everyone was in tears, and it really impacted me that they would spend what little they had to get me something.”

Madison Argyle

Helping others is now an annual birthday tradition for Madison. “Every year I pick an organization, ranging from helping the homeless, our church foodbank, service dogs, and girls who have been trafficked,” she says. 

Madison’s mom has been a behind-the-scenes supporter. “We are really proud of her and wanted to do whatever we could to support her,” says Jeanette Argyle. “She has always been a really caring person and thoughtful of others.”

Lighting the way

  This February, Madison turned sixteen and she wanted to do something really special. She decided to start the 5k Lantern Walk/Run. The event will begin on June 25 at the Woodlake Pavilion at 6:30 pm with live music, food, speakers, and kid’s activities. It will end with a 5k twilight walk/run through Woodlake carrying lanterns.

Throughout history, the lantern has represented freedom, safety, and hope. “Our hope is that neighbors along the route will help light the path with their own lanterns,” Madison says.

Her goal is to make a larger impact this year. 

“I chose Compassion First [an organization that helps empower survivors of sex trafficking rebuild their lives as the focus this year] because I love the work they do and I want girls my age who have been sex-trafficked to know that they matter and are loved,” she says. “It’s also been a rough couple of years for people, me included, and I am hoping this event will help bring people together.”

When Madison was growing up, her mom was part of the Compassion First team in Oregon.

“She has seen the work [the organization] does,” says Jeanette. “Our family has always been involved with different ministries and we have done a lot of volunteer work together over the years.”

Madison and her mom’s biggest challenge this year has been getting people to sign up for the 5k and finding corporate sponsors. 

“We are fairly new to the area and do not know a lot of people here. Madison’s original goal was 500 people to attend. We almost had to cancel the walk a few weeks ago because it’s such a big event to put on and we were lacking sponsors and only had 34 people (including our family) signed up,” says Jeanette. “We went to church on May 22 with the intention of calling Compassion First the next day to cancel when three people I barely knew came up to me asking about the walk. They all encouraged me to give it another week. In that week, God has opened so many doors and has shown Madison his power in a way she would never have experienced otherwise.”

Madison and her mom were also encouraged by a surprise visit from a friend who flew out from Oregon to visit. 

“She is a sex-trafficking survivor and it was a sweet reminder as to why we are doing what we are doing and that all the hard work is worth it because she is worth it and all the girls/boys like her are also worth it,” Jeanette says. 

Over the years, Madison has had friends that have started helping others as a result of seeing the work that Madison is doing. 

“[Just recently], Chloe, who is a close family friend of ours, is doing her thirteenth birthday party to help Mercy Mall. Everyone is bringing Love Baskets filled with supplies and cards and then all the girls will go to Build-A-Bear to make bears to donate to the kids they serve,” says Madison.

She also finds support and encouragement from her twin brother and 19-year-old sister who step in to help out whenever they are needed. 

“Madison is a normal teenager who struggles with all the normal teenage battles, but we are so proud of her and love her heart for others,” Jeanette says.

For Madison, it’s all about advocating for others.

“I love that I have been able to help people out and make a difference in their life,” she says. 

For more information on the Lantern Walk, go to

An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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