Meet Maddie Craigen, Yampa Valley’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year

Maddie Craigen, middle right, stands with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters. Craigen completed more than 250 hours of training with the fire department to earn her Emergency Medical Technician certification.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A 17-year-old Steamboat Springs native with an extensive track record of accolades and community service has been named the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year. 

Madeleine Craigen, a recent Steamboat Springs High School graduate, has exhibited an uncanny devotion to helping others and growing professionally.  

“I’m kind of a type-A person who likes to fill every ounce of my time,” Craigen explained. 

In 2017, she helped to found Youth Inspiring Change, a nonprofit that fosters connections between elementary students and local first responders. The next year, Craigen and some fellow students organized the Routt County Hoedown, a barn dance that raised $10,000 for Routt County United Way and Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, also known as STARS.

With a keen interest in medicine, Craigen completed her emergency medical technician certification during the first semester of her senior year. To receive her clinical training, she did more than 250 hours worth of ride-alongs with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue and trained for an additional 100 hours with Memorial Regional Health in Craig. 

“The theme of medicine is you are always learning,” Craigen said.

In January, she received a certification in IV therapy, and in March, she completed a wilderness EMT through Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs. Through that course, she got to spend a week in the backcountry practicing a variety of emergency responses, including an avalanche scenario with Steamboat Ski Patrol. 

“It was the most fun week of my life,” Craigen said.

On Friday, members of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and Craigen’s family surprised her with the award during dinner. Mark Elliott, campus supervisor at the high school, nominated her for the award. He described Craigen as one of the strongest leaders he has ever met.

“Every once in a while, you come across a youth who creates a level of excellence in helping others in the community. Madeleine Craigen is one of these special people who make a difference,” Elliott said in his nomination letter for the philanthropy award. “I think she is going to do great things with her life.”

In the fall, Craigen plans to attend the University of Alabama to study political science and pre-medicine. Her lifelong dream is to join Doctors Without Borders as an emergency medical physician or trauma surgeon.

“I want to live a life of purpose,” Craigen said.

Her family has been a major source of inspiration, supporting her through her various endeavors and encouraging her diverse interests.

Craigen encourages fellow students to not let their younger age prevent them from pursuing their goals. As she has proven, age is not a barrier, and the Steamboat community offers tremendous opportunities for those who seek them.

“If you want to do something, you can achieve it,” Craigen said. “You just need to put your mind to it, and you can do anything.”

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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