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SLAA’s Ja’Quon Madaris: Gifts from the Heart and Hands

August 14, 2023 | Jeffrey Good

SLAA’s Ja’Quon Madaris: Gifts from the Heart and Hands image

If they could find a job at all, most 15-year-olds would use the cash to buy snacks, video games or tickets to a concert — or maybe save toward their first car. 

Since he started his own auto detailing business and taking on other odd jobs to make money, St. Lucie Acceleration Academies graduation candidate Ja’Quon Madaris has earned more than $8,000 — and he hasn’t kept a penny for himself. 

Instead, he is using it to support his niece in her fight against leukemia. 

Ja’Quon’s generosity captured the attention of Wayne Filowitz, who hosts a local video interview program at WRPB Studios in the Port St. Lucie, FL, area. He invited Ja’Quon on the program recently to discuss his fundraising effort. 

“People come through here all the time, but it’s rare that you find somebody who does what they do for the right reasons,” Filowitz began. “And I’ve got to tell you that this gentleman sitting next to me — most people his age would use that money for themselves.”

“Kudos to you,” he said to Ja’Quon. “I really appreciate that you have such a big heart.” 

When asked in a later Acceleration Academies interview about his work on behalf of his niece, Ja’Quon was matter-of-fact. “It’s family,” he says. “Family’s going to be there for you when no one else is. When they go through hard times, you gotta be there with them.”  

Ja’Quon is known around SLAA as a soft-spoken, hard-working and humble young man. He enrolled in December after having tried to begin his high school career at an online-only school. He said it was an exercise in frustration. 

“Let’s say you needed help on something,” he explains. “You had to submit a request to the teacher and it took them 2 weeks to get back to you. By the time they got back to you, it had already been graded.” 

His older sister, Shania, is an SLAA grad and she told him that the school would provide him with all the personalized support he needed. “She was saying that if you need help, you can just walk right over to a coach and they’ll help you one-on-one.” 

Ja’Quon has found that to be the case. “It’s been amazing, the way they teach you and how diligent they are in helping you.” 

He also appreciates the cafe-style seating and the freedom graduation candidates enjoy in taking a break from their studies to stretch their legs and grab a snack. “In a traditional school, you have the white boards and rows of desks.” 

Ja’Quon’s niece Arya is only 9, and she’s been battling acute myeloid leukemia since 2021. She’s undergone a bone marrow transplant and has to go to a Miami hospital for chemotherapy and radiation. 

Her mom had to stop working to be with her child at the hospital, and the bills for treatment and living away from home run to about $1,000 a week. To help, Ja’Quon began trimming trees, pressure washing driveways and doing assorted odd jobs.  

Then, he detailed a BMW for a man who praised his work and attention to detail. Inspired by that experience, Ja’Quon decided to start his own business, Treasure Coast Detailing, and to give all the money he makes to his niece and her family. 

“I’m not keeping anything,” he says. “I send the money straight to her.” 

His success at school and as an entrepreneur has sparked an ambition to graduate early and build his own mobile detailing business. 

He said that SLAA math coach Carson Senger has not only helped him with academic math, but is also helping Ja’Quon figure out details such as registering as a limited liability company, ordering business cards, getting his brand out there through t-shirts and social media advertising. 

“He’s been trying to help me with my business,” says Ja’Quon. “He’s not just a teacher; he’s more like a mentor.”

“Ja’Quon is extremely respectful and kind,” says Senger. “He is a hard worker and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked. He is always trying to help out with his niece’s expenses not just through detailing, but also by selling shirts and beanies. He is incredibly selfless and quick to make friends. If you are in a bind, Ja’Quon will be there to get you out.”

St. Lucie Acceleration Academies accepts new students on a rolling basis. For more information, check out the academy web page and fill out an online enrollment form.

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