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Maine Campground Remembers ‘Craig’s Way’

August 4, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Welcome sign at Yankeeland Campground, Kennebunk, Maine.

Yankeeland Campground near Kennebunk, Maine, was a huge part of Craig Madigan’s 21 years of life, and served as the site of a memorial barbecue in his honor on July 30.

Madigan stayed at the Kennebunk campground every summer with his family from Fitchburg, Mass., and tragically died there last May due to complications from autism, the York Weekly reported.

Dave and Joanne Madigan, Craig’s parents, began coming to Yankeeland in 1985, and after Craig’s passing a campground worker suggested they hold an event in his memory there. They decided to hold a cookout last year, open to all of the campgrounds residents; the response was so overwhelming that the food ran out three times. Saturday’s event was equally well attended.

“It’s amazing, it’s absolutely stunning to see this turnout. There’s too many people to thank. You have your own little community here. I don’t know all the names, I know the faces, but they’re great people,” Dave Madigan said.

After Craig’s death, the Madigans decided to establish the nonprofit Craig’s Way in hopes of raising money for autism charities and community organizations that Craig was involved in. The barbecue helps them do that.

This year the planning was a bit more extensive and the entire production a bit more ambitious. Three hundred tickets were sold for the barbecue and on top of the food there were hayrides, music, raffles, a balloon release, and Craig’s Way T-shirts and hats.

The most personal activity of the day was when a large group of mostly young Yankeeland residents mounted their decorated bicycles and took a ride around the dirt roads of the campground led by Craig’s father.

“When we always pulled in to Yankeeland after our ride from Massachusetts, as soon as we got in the door, Craig would get out of the car, go around back where his bike was, look at my wife and say, ‘Mom, I’m going for a bike ride,'” his father said.

Another of Craig’s favorite things to do was watch Disney movies, so an anonymous friend donated a big screen plasma television to Craig’s Way. Craig’s Way then turned around and donated the television to Yankeeland Campground.

Recently, Fitchburg’s Cal Ripken Baseball league donated $1,200 to Craig’s Way, and Dave has expressed his intention to start giving back to that league. The Madigans have also worked with the Special Olympics, created a scholarship in their son’s name at his high school and donated two apple iPads to his former classroom.

“It’s all about Craig’s likes,” Dave Madigan said. “We want to continue helping people. It’s the legacy of a young man who was a phenomenal human being, not because he was my son. Whatever venue that was about Craig we want to help.”

Yankeeland was happy to welcome Craig and his family every summer during his lifetime. Now, in the wake of his death, they continue to host Craig’s Way and honor his legacy. Owner Ronald Robinson said events like this that bring almost all of the campers together are what the campground is all about.

“It’s what my father envisioned when he started this place, and he saw it happen during his lifetime. It was neat for us personally,” said Robinson.

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