Keeping Maddy in Mind – A Memorial Fund to Support Boulder Junior Rangers

Madison (Maddy) Ash Lignell was the quintessential Boulder kid. He was an active part of the Boulder community from his preschool days at the Boulder JCC, and at Mesa, Southern Hills and Fairview High School. Always the kid with the biggest grin, the most inventive ideas, and a sunny, optimistic attitude, Maddy loved school, worked hard and chatted enthusiastically with teachers and classmates alike. He might be best known for long involvement in wrestling, starting at Southern Hills, with Boulder United and then at Fairview. As a freshman, he was the lightest varsity wrestler, under-weight in the 98 lb. class, and usually chowing down burgers the night before weigh-ins. Like many Boulder graduates, Maddy headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college and from there went on to an exciting career as a mechanical engineer with SpaceX.
Maddy died by suicide in the early morning of May 15, 2021, after a sudden, unexpected, and catastrophic mental health crisis that came on in just a few short days. He was the light of their lives and loved beyond measure by his parents Jordana Ash and Oliver Lignell, and his two older sisters, Shayna Trujillo (Pavel) and Hanna Lignell.
Maddy’s family has chosen to partner with the Boulder Junior Ranger program because this program reflects many of the values that Maddy held dear. Since childhood, he loved to explore and care for the natural environment. Whether hiking, climbing, camping, or photographing the outdoors, Maddy got outside every chance he got. He worked with the Boulder Junior Rangers for four years as a young teenager. On his crew, he learned environmental stewardship, teamwork, and leadership. In his second year’s application Maddy wrote, “being out in nature helps me get in touch with my mind and my body. To know you helped someone’s outdoor experience by keeping the trail in good condition is its own reward.” The experiences he had in Junior Rangers shaped and influenced the person Maddy was: compassionate, curious, conscientious, generous and adventurous.
As a young adult, he supported nature in more practical and progressive ways. Maddy donated his time, treasure and talents to causes like the Sunrise Movement and worked on campaigns supporting local political candidates who advocate for important climate change policies like the Green New Deal. The Lignell family finds great congruence between the commitment of Boulder Junior Rangers to maintaining and improving equitable, inclusive practices and Maddy’s own personal research about and holistic and deep investment in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Boulder Junior Ranger program offers paid jobs for teens to work with the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department. Junior Rangers complete trail maintenance and construction, forestry, and ecological restoration projects. Since being established in 1965, it has employed over 4,000 youth and created a legacy of community champions who are personally invested in the future of OSMP and all public lands. Junior Rangers programming today also incorporates intentional support of youth from diverse backgrounds, increasing community-wide experiences in the outdoors and pays special attention to mental health and wellness for staff and Rangers alike.
The Lignell Family has created the Maddy Lignell Legacy Fund to raise funds for Boulder Junior Rangers. Contributions made this year will support the purchase of gear, including boots, backpacks and bus passes for kids who can’t afford them, stipends for mentors who provide extra support for potential Rangers, and staff training on mental health topics.
Click here to read the 2021 annual report to learn more about the impact of the Boulder Junior Rangers.
Boulder Open Space Conservancy is an official non-profit partner of the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks department and is hosting Maddy’s Legacy Fund. Donations made in 2023 through BOSC will be given to OSMP Junior Rangers program at the end of the year.
To learn more about Maddy Lignell and the 2023 Gathering for Maddy in Boulder on August 12, 2023, please take a look at this website.
We gratefully acknowledge that many have already donated to Maddy’s Legacy Fund. Thank you!