Madelyn Johnston’s favorite color was pink. She loved sports — earning her the nickname "Mad Dog" — and she was helpful and compassionate toward her fellow classmates.

Madelyn died in an ATV accident last year, but students, teachers, faculty and friends at Woodrow Cummins Elementary did not want to let her birthday go by without recognition this year.

Tuesday morning, the student body was joined by Madelyn’s family at her memorial in front of the library. Each person had a pink balloon, and Madelyn’s little brother Sawyer had a bunch clenched in his gloved fists.

"Today we are remembering and honoring the friend that showed compassion towards others; the classmate who always helped those in need; the athlete who excelled in whatever sport she attempted to play; the student who accepted nothing less than the best; and the daughter who loved her family, life and Jesus more than anything," said Woodrow Cummins teacher and family friend Damara Willcutt. "She has left a wonderful legacy upon many hearts of children and adults on and off of our campus."

Woodrow Cummins Principal Dayna Coleman supplied the balloons; the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Ron Hill and Crain Automotive supplied the helium for the balloons; and students donated money to help build a playground at Second Baptist Church in Madelyn’s memory.

Madelyn’s parents, TJ and Rachel, thanked the crowd for remembering their daughter, who would have been nine years old this year.

"I promise you, Madelyn is smiling ear to ear, dancing, acting silly and having a good time," TJ Johnston said. "She approves."

After speeches were made and thanks were extended, the children of Woodrow Cummins sang a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to You" and released their balloons into the sky, sending a up spattering of pink in remembrance of Madelyn.

(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at