Kate Fagan: Keeping Madison’s Story Alive


Katie Mullaney

Kate Fagan speaking to the seniors and juniors at Pascack Valley about her book "What Made Maddy Run" and the struggles college students face.

“Mental health is not the absence of mental illness,” is a phrase that ESPN sports writer and author of “What Made Maddy Run,” Kate Fagan, told Pascack Valley juniors and seniors on Thursday in an assembly during Pascack Period.

She also spoke later that day at 7 p.m. at Split Image: Secret Struggles of Teens, a parent and teen education program about mental health and social media, which took place at Pascack Hills.

Fagan talked about mental health and the story of Madison Holleran, a college runner who committed suicide.

She told students about her own personal story that related to Madison’s. Students were encouraged to not ignore the warning signs of suicidal behaviors and to not be afraid to reach out to someone who might be suffering.

Before answering students questions at the end, Fagan reminded the audience that the transition to college can be a difficult one and spoke about the impact that social media can have on one’s mental health.

“Our hope was that we would be able to connect with kids and hopefully affect in some way how they view their own experience,” Fagan said. “Hopefully, they can become ambassadors of caring about their friends around them while being self aware about their own experience and interactions.”

Katie Mullaney

Fagan talks about the self-doubt that many students face during the transition from highschool to college, creating a feeling of loneliness. But by talking out your feelings, you can see many commonalities with the people around you.

Katie Mullaney

Fagan tells the audience the importance of addressing tough issues head first, rather than ignoring them.

Katie Mullaney

In high school Maddy became accustomed to winning all of her races, but in college, it wasn’t always easy to get to the top. Fagan shares how Maddy’s perfectionism started to mentally tear her down.