This past winter, Christine Vosik of Omaha, Nebraska, surprised her 14-year-old daughter, Maddie, with a special stuffed toy — a cheery pink octopus with orange splotches and curly tentacles.
The toy was based on a picture drawn by the girl who Maddie did everything with, Taylor Podraza, who signed it and wrote: “Dedicated to my best friend Maddie Vosik.” Seven months after sketching the octopus, Taylor was killed in a car crash in December, 2010, but Maddie had never seen the picture until it was found in October and given to her.
Maddie's beloved octopus is part of a line of one-of-a-kind creations by Budsies, a company that makes handmade stuffed toys and animals based on a child's own drawing.
“I feel better because it’s something cuddly that reminds me of her, so it’s hugging a piece of her,” Maddie said. “It was made for me, so it’s really special to me.”
In Munster, Indiana, Michale DeLong, 15, drew a picture of her brother, Micah, as “Super Micah,” a grinning superhero with an “M” on his chest. Micah has cerebral palsy, and cannot speak or stand, yet has surpassed his life expectancy and smiles when he’s happy.