‘Couldn’t be more proud’: Manitoba boy drawing Jets pictures to help friend with medical condition

About two years ago, 11-year-old Maddox Just of Morris, Manitoba, suddenly started to suffer from seizures. He’s been in and out of the hospital since, forcing Maddox to repeatedly miss school.

In mid-February, Charlie Berg, 9, heard about Maddox’s situation and, even though they had never met, decided to raise funds for Maddox by drawing pictures of Winnipeg Jets players for anyone willing to make a donation.

Charlie has already raised close to $4000 to help Maddox and his family through their medical journey, and requests for Jets drawings – or simple donations – keep coming in.

“Someone actually took the initiative to begin helping me and raising money,” said Maddox. “I guess I was just surprised.”

“I didn’t expect as many donations as there have been,” he said.

A recent MRI scan found the cause of Maddox’s seizures: He has a tumour located on the top left-hand side of his brain.

At first, however, Maddox’s condition was a mystery to his family. When Maddox got his first seizure, he was at home with his older brother, Matthew, who found his younger sibling lying on the kitchen floor.

“I pulled him up off the ground but he started tumbling, he was very disoriented,” said Matthew, “It was very confusing for me.”

Maddox’s mother, Melony Just, immediately took Maddox to the emergency room to find out what was going on. It would be the first of many trips to the hospital Maddox and Melony have made over the last two years.

After a fiveday stint in the hospital in early March, involving three induced seizures, doctors found that Maddox’s tumour is operable.

“That’s good news,” said Melony, adding that two surgeries will need to be performed, the first being largely exploratory.

“We don’t know dates, we don’t know times, we don’t know anything like that yet.”

Maddox will likely need to travel to British Columbia for the surgeries, which will undoubtedly involve missing more school.

Maddox has only been to school for several full days this year, says Melony, and she’s had to quit her job to have the time to take care of Maddox.

Thankfully, some of the funds raised by Charlie’s efforts have helped cover some of the costs associated with extended stays in the hospital.

“At the hospital, they don’t provide the parents with food or anything,” said Melony Just, “It was a huge help.”

Maddox’s medical condition struck a chord with Charlie when he heard about it at school. A few months before Christmas, Charlie lost a young friend to cancer.

“He didn’t show that he took it hard, but he actually did,” said Charlie’s mother Jennifer Arnason, “After he heard about Maddox at school he came to me and asked me to explain what was going on.”

Two days later, Charlie went back to his mother with an idea.

“He came to me and said, ‘Mom, I want to draw Jets drawings and I want to sell them for $5 each and give the money to Maddox.'”

“I cry every time I talk about it,” she said, “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

A picture Charlie Berg, 9, drew to help a schoolmate dealing with medical procedures. (CTV News Photo Michael D’Alimonte)

Charlie’s original goal was to raise $500, a milestone quickly surpassed, as Charlie received $800 in donations in the first week alone.

Now, a little more than a month into raising donations, Charlie’s drawn about 100 Jets photos and raised close to $4,000.

“Lots of [Connor] Hellebuyck and Kyle Connors,” said Charlie, two of the most-requested players he gets to draw.

Neither are Charlie’s favourite to draw, with that distinction going to Dale Hawerchuk.

Crafting the drawings has become a bit of a multi-family affair, with Charlie’s mom and brother helping out, along with Maddox and Matthew, at least when all the boys are together hanging out.

Charlie and Maddox have, of course, become fast friends.

“I guess I’m lucky,” said Maddox, “There are lots of people with medical conditions that don’t get as much support.”

Anyone who wishes to donate can contact Charlie’s mother Jennifer via text at 204-872-2632 or email at jennig9@gmail.com. 

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