Audra DiPadova Wilford Is Changing the World, One Cup of Soup at a Time
Last year was one of the biggest years in Audra DiPadova Wilford's life: her son, Max, was featured on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in a memorable, tear-jerking segment. Her charity, the MaxLove Project, partnered up with the Honest Company to launch a social media campaign that earned more than 20 million impressions and raised over $30,000. And all of Wilford's hard work earned her a nomination as a L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth. We caught up with Wilford for an update on her and the MaxLove Project, and how her dreams have evolved since winning the award.
Being a WoW was, in Wilford's words, "Beautifully legitimizing. We received national recognition, and it was just a wonderful vote of confidence."
With so many great nonprofit organizations doing such amazing work around the world, it can be hard for worthy charities to raise funds — but with her growing press exposure and ensuing fundraising successes Wilford was able to launch new programs including the Broth Bank Initiative, which aims to provide nutritional broths to families whose children suffer from cancer.
"What I found was that, in most hospitals, the broth kids were being served was based in bouillon, which has high-fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient," Wilford said. "What the broth bank does is replace that with a broth that's much healthier and actually conducive to the healing process."
Wilford's been working with local chefs to make the new broth, and MaxLove Project has taken the healthful eating news to another level for local Santa Ana families—they've introduced family cooking classes, enlisted the support of a local Whole Foods, and started working with local elementary schools on another awesome new initiative: Fierce Food Academy, where kids work together to devise healthy, delicious recipes not just for themselves, but for their peers and friends in the hospital.
"We had the kids compete in a 'Fierceness Challenge,' where they worked with local chefs to come up with these recipes and debut them in a teaching kitchen to a panel of community judges made up of teachers, local police, doctors — it was really, really amazing, and we look forward to expanding that," said Wilford.
If you think those projects are impressive, you should know this: Wilford still works full-time in college admissions. Everything she's accomplished with MaxLove has been in addition to her day job, and with the help of an amazing group of volunteers and paid interns. Her dream for the organization is to be able to dedicate 100 percent of her time to it, and to grow it to be financially viable while at the same time providing a model to other communities to take charge of their own health and nutrition.
"I want MaxLove to inspire a movement across America to make necessary changes to help our kids thrive," she says. "I want to be a part of that movement full-time, and it doesn't need to have my or MaxLove's name on it. I want to be a part of that change with moms, dads, and hospitals across the nation. I want teaching kitchens in every hospital. We can't do it if our communities don't step up. I want to be a part of that change."
August will mark the four-year mark of Max's cancer diagnosis, but Wilford is more determined than ever. With more projects than ever on the horizon, the future of MaxLove is looking bright.
For more information or to make a donation to the MaxLove Project, check out the website here.
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Photo Credit: MaxLove, Glamour.com