RICHMOND – September 23, 2017 is a day Lauryn Hall will never forget. It was the day the girl she still refers to as her “sister” suffered a fatal brain aneurysm while playing a soccer game at Chariho High School.
Maddie Potts, the 17-year-old honor student, track star, soccer player, lacrosse team member and Chariho School senior, left behind a shocked community that day.
“Maddie and I grew up as sisters,” Hall said recently, explaining that their parents were the best of friends and that she always considered the Potts an extension of her own family. “After my mother passed away, when I was nine months old, the friendship got stronger. We had been best friends since we were born. We would bicker like sisters and laugh over the dumbest things.”
As children, the two girls enjoyed writing and performing plays for their relatives, making up songs to sing and choreographing dance routines. They spent winters together on ski vacations and summers at the beach.
“Losing Maddie brought insurmountable pain and heartbreak,” she said. “It has been so hard for all of us to understand why she was taken away so soon.”
But through it all, she said, the memories of the young woman who spent her free time volunteering with organizations that educated on substance abuse, working in community gardens and raising funds for cancer awareness, wove together a legacy that brought healing and growth. In November of 2017, the Maddie Potts Foundation was established, raising funds for scholarships, facility upgrades, athletic and arts programs and opportunities for individuals with disabilities at Chariho School.
Since that time, numerous fundraisers have been held to support the Foundation. “So, for my senior project, I decided to put together a benefit concert in Maddie’s honor,” said Hall, a Scituate High School senior. As the daughter of a musically inclined former math teacher at Chariho Middle School, as well as youth choir director at their church, she said that “Melodies for Maddie” will contain all of the songs that celebrate “the emotions we have experienced over the last 16 months.”
The concert will be held on Feb. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Bean Barn, located at 599 Tiogue Avenue in Coventry. “Melodies for Maddie” mugs will be on sale during the event, for the cost of a self-selected donation, which will benefit the Maddie Potts Foundation.
“My good friend Billy Peterson will be playing songs alongside me as well as providing accompaniment on guitar and piano, and my friend Sophia Collins will be accompanying me on violin,” she said, explaining that the show is under the direction of another friend, Jaclyn Tirocchi.
“I put together this concert to honor Maddie’s life, her legacy and her love of music. She had amazing music taste and was always giving out music recommendations. I am going to be playing songs that I connect to Maddie and her impact on my life along with tons of super fun songs that she got me hooked on,” she said.
For those who are not able to attend Hall’s concert, she hopes they will donate to the cause.
“Performing in such a vulnerable setting is going to be really difficult for me,” she said. But she knows she’ll get through it by “embodying the strength that Maddie put into everything she did.”