Walt Disney Marathon Weekend

We are incredibly excited to share the news that that our Team SaMP runners at this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend has already raised nearly $28,000 for Sophie and Madigan’s Playground!!!!

45 runners from 17 different states will be running for Sophie and Madigan at Disney World over the next 4 days. To each of you, we can’t express enough how thankful we are that you chose to run and fundraise for Sophie and Madigan’s Playground and help us honor Sophie and Madigan by providing opportunities for children and their families to PLAY, LEARN, and CREATE memories.

Please share our excitement for Team SaMP by wishing them all happy running as they begin their races tomorrow through Sunday. And there is still time to support any of the Team SaMP runners by donating at:52


Park Update ~ Moving to WSRP

Thanks to the The Frederick News-Post l fredericknewspost.com for helping us share the most recent park updates. Thanks to Bob Smith at City of Frederick Parks and Rec for working with us to make the changes and to get the girls park moved to “Butterfly Ln” it couldn’t be in a better location


“When a devastating house fire near Myersville killed sisters Sophie and Madigan Lillard nearly five years ago, their family members developed a plan to honor their memory through the construction of a destination playground.

After years of unwavering love and support from the community, the three-phased playground is making serious headway at a new planned location in the future Westside Regional Park at Hargett Farm in Frederick.

“It’s been five years since the girls passed away and we’re ready for something to be here for them,” said Chrissi Lillard, the mother of Sophie, 6, and Madigan, 3.

Roughly five months after the Jan. 31, 2013, fire, the nonprofit Sophie and Madigan’s Playground was formed to raise money for the playground through fundraisers geared toward the girls. The fundraisers have included pirate- and princess-themed 5K runs and “Pink Friday” events that raised money for the cause through a portion of Black Friday shopping profits at local businesses. Community members also participated in runs to raise awareness of the girls and the cause, and Lillard said a team is raising money to participate in February in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Disney World on behalf of the nonprofit.

Lillard said about $400,000 has been raised for the playground. And once the current plans are finalized at the Westside Regional Park site, Lillard said she and the fundraising team can begin soliciting donations from corporate sponsors.

The playground was originally set for inclusion in the planned West Park Village development on the site of the VFW clubhouse and golf course on Old National Pike. While awaiting the developer’s dedication of the land to the city, however, Lillard said the other location came up as a better fit.

“It was purchased by a developer around the same time that the girls passed away,” Lillard said of the land inside the future West Park Village.

“They promised we could do it there, but the developer still hasn’t dedicated it to the city. Until that happens, it still isn’t available,” she said. “We went to the city several times and hoped something would pop up.”

The Board of Aldermen approved a plan for the multi-use Westside Regional Park on roughly 130 acres of vacant city-owned farmland along Butterfly Lane at the beginning of the year that includes a spot for a destination park.

Bob Smith, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation, said members of the Westside Regional Park Task Force and the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission have discussed dedicating land for the playground inside the park. He said the idea received favorable recommendations from both groups and officials are working up a memorandum of understanding between the city and the nonprofit to build the playground on what Smith said is a “small footprint” of the site. The playground is tentatively slated for what is known as the “Festival Area” of the regional park, which is adjacent to Butterfly Lane just east of the farm structures.

Smith said he hopes construction of the playground will begin in the summer. Lillard said the playground company informed her it will take about a month to put the equipment in.

“Hopefully the first phase will be finished in fall of 2019. That would be really great,” she said.

The latest blueprints for the playground include three different “lands” — Fantasyland, Neverland and Wonderland — made up of custom equipment, and details reflecting the girls’ spirits and personalities.

“It is all completely themed to those things the girls really enjoyed,” Lillard said.

She said she hopes to break ground on Fantasyland first, which she called the center of the project.

Fantasyland is princess-themed and set to include an enchanted castle, pumpkin carriage, hidden dragon, woodland cottage, whimsical swings, and horses adorned with Sophie and Madigan’s favorite things. Neverland has a pirate theme and will include amenities such as a pirate ship, lost boys club house, skull rock, zip line, mermaid lagoon, hidden treasures and Tiger Lily village. Plans for the “Alice in Wonderland” themed Wonderland include a tea party spinner, rabbit hole log, mushroom house, large butterfly and flower shades, card soldier maze and a Red Queen flower garden. The entire playground is multi-aged and will include accessible ground coverings and transfer platforms.

Lillard said she is glad the playground is finally coming to fruition and looks forward to breaking ground.

“The park has always been our central mission,” she said. “We want the park to be there as a physical reminder to the girls.”

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska”

SaMP Kids Talent Show for SHIP

In case you haven’t heard of us we are SaMP Kids ~ Compassionate Kids Club. We are focused on compassion and community service. Each month we come together to choose a new service project. We’ve done it all from sunshine bags, to baking cookies we work together to show compassion for others and learn how our service has an impact on the community. We have helped over 10 local organizations and put in over 800 hours of community service since we began in November of 2016. We welcome kids of all ages, and abilities to join us at our weekly meetings at Common Market.

SaMP Kids is one of many free PLAY LEARN CREATE programs thanks to the sponsors and donors of Sophie and Madigan’s Playground in honor of Sophie and Madigan Lillard who passed away in 2013.

In November the Kids decided to help SHIP ~ SHIP stands for Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership. The Kids decided to work with SHIP after we had co founder Ed Hinde out for a presentation at the beginning of the November. The kids learned that almost every single school in Frederick County has a student(s) facing homelessness, over 600 students in all. SHIP helps by filling vital needs for homeless students directly through the school system. Today December 1st SHIP is kicking off their Homeless for the Holidays Hygiene drive in Frederick, you will see branded boxes throughout Frederick County, the items collected will then be distributed to students as the need arises through out the year. SHIP has a very active Facebook group where they post needs on a regular basis. We encourage you to check it out.

If you want to join us in December the first Monday we are creating cards at common market, and then the second week we will delivering the cards and caroling at Homewood.

Huge thanks to our Friends at Dublin Roasters for hosting this and many other community events!

The Happy Birthday, Madigan!

Sweet Madigan,

My heart aches to be with you everyday but today it aches that much harder. Today you are 8 years old, the last birthday we spent with you you were just turning 3. We went to Disney World and ate dinner at the Beasts Castle. I’m so glad we got to have that special day with you. I try to imagine what you would be doing at this age. Would you still love baby dolls, Brave, and signing at the top of your lungs? Would you still be the funny sweet mischievous little monkey or would you have grown out of that phase? I know you would have been an amazing big sister, I bet you Sadie and Mason would be so fun to see together. I miss you to the moon, and wish that I could do more than wonder who you would be. I’m grateful that your energy still surrounds us and that when we quiet our minds from all of the hard stuff I know we can find you there. Some days that’s harder than others.

If you were here with me today I would be taking you out to celebrate your special day. Maybe we would have gotten pedicures before heading out to see a movie, then we would have come home and celebrated with treats with your cousins and our family. Instead today I woke up with tears, I poured through pictures and videos from Aunt Becky and Uncle Nick in hopes to find a new picture or video, and now I’m writing to you. We’ll break out the Christmas decorations today like we do every year because you loved the lights. I’m thinking I’ll take your smallest siblings to watch a concert and hope Morgan tags along. We will get hot chocolate inspired by you and your sister. Then we’ll send you our hugs, kisses and love notes on balloons. There will be a lot of tears today and hopefully some smiles too.

From the day you were born rushing in 9 weeks early you soothed my heart and soul. You are intelligent, empathetic, giving, creative, and oh so perfect for our family. You loved with every piece of yourself and we all soaked that in. We live each day with a sense of gratitude for your short but amazing life. This world is a better, more wondrous place because you were in it. Your life has inspired so many to be better to do better to be more present and more loving. I hope you can feel our love for you.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl. We miss you and love you more than words could ever describe. Give Sophie a big hug for me





1 year of SaMP Kids ~ Homeless for the Holidays Talent Show

It’s our 1 year anniversary of SaMP Kids ~ Compassionate Kids Club! I can’t believe that we’ve made it a full year, our program is thriving, and reaching new families every week! We’re also making a BIG difference in our community, in the last year the SaMP Kids have logged over 875 volunteer hours, they have worked with the Religious Coalition to provide sunshine bags filled with hygiene items for those using the shelter, made the holidays a little happier for kids who found themselves at Children’s National Medical Center, baked cookies to raise money for St Jude, brought much needed pet supplies to Frederick County Animal Shelter, helped clean the streets of Frederick with the Downtown Frederick Partnership, created homes for birds to encourage them to make a home at Catoctin Creek Nature Center, held an EVERYTHING Sale for Blessings in a Backpack, created a meditation space, and shared a meal with Building Veterans! That’s a lot of lives they are helping!

This month the kids are working with SHIP (Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership) they have decided to undertake the enormous task of holding a talent show! Yesterday they worked on their show ideas, and finalized the details for the show which will be held at Dublin Roasters on December 1st at 5:30PM. They decided that admission for the show will be new hygiene items, or a cash donation. Everything the kids collect will be donated to SHIP to help with their “Homeless for the HolidaysHygiene Drive.At our meeting yesterday the kids worked on their timeline, made posters for the event.

Next week is Thanksgiving week so we will not meet. Our next meeting is scheduled for November 27th 4:30 at the Common Market, we will have a little run through of each kids talent.

SaMP Kids – Compassionate Kids Club is a weekly group focused on compassion and community service. Kids of all ages will come together to choose a service based project that will help teach them the importance of compassion for others and how their service big and small can make a difference in our community.

We are still in need of ASL proficient volunteers to help at our weekly meetings if you are able and willing to assist one of our regular attendees get the most out of our weekly meet ups please consider signing up to help for a week or two throughout the year. http://signup.com/go/HtyNBNC

SaMP Kids is a free LEARN program thanks to the support of our sponsors and donors.