Maddy Logelin points at a photo on the wall and says "mama." Of course, she does that with every photo, said her father, Matt Logelin. The tow-headed 18-month-old has no understanding yet that her mother, Liz Logelin, who wanted and loved her so much, died 27 hours after she was born. She also has no idea that she has become known worldwide through her father's blog (www.mattlogelin.com) and numerous national and local news stories in the family's native Twin Cities and in Los Angeles, where they now live.
Matt and Maddy Logelin were in the Twin Cities recently for two events to support a foundation Matt established earlier this year in memory of his wife. The nonprofit "Liz Logelin Foundation — for the love of Liz" offers financial support to men and women whose partners have died and left them with dependent children.
"I could have easily sat back and said, 'Poor me, poor me, please continue to send me clothes, send me gifts for my daughter,' " he said as Maddy played at his in-laws' house in Minnetonka, Minn. "But that's not the case. I know there are other people way worse off than me. I see that as a big responsibility."
The second annual 5K walk at Lake Calhoun last week drew 300 people and raised more than $9,000. A gala at the Calhoun Beach Club with a silent, live and Internet auction was expected to raise even more.
Logelin credits the volunteers for the hard work that sustains the foundation (www. thelizlogelinfoundation.org.) The community that sprang up around his blog inspired him to establish it.
"When you have this kind of platform ... if you don't do something good, then you're doing something bad," he said.
Matt and Liz Logelin (formerly Goodman) had the makings of a fairy-tale love story. She approached him at a Minnetonka gas station, mispronouncing his name, when they were high school seniors. They were inseparable after that.
They've traveled the world — he proposed in Nepal — and married Aug. 13, 2005, in Minneapolis. They bought a house in Los Angeles, where Liz was a financial executive at Disney and Matt worked as a manager for Yahoo. They planned a family and were ecstatic when Liz got pregnant. One of Matt's favorite photos is of Liz, beaming, pointing at her pregnant belly.
Liz was on bed rest for five weeks before Madeline was born by C-section seven weeks premature. Liz saw Madeline for a brief moment, but the doctor told her to stay in bed for another 24 hours before she held her daughter.
The next day, as Matt helped Liz out of bed and into a wheelchair, she collapsed in his arms. She died on March 25, 2008 of a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in an artery of her lungs.
He started the blog originally to keep family members and friends in Minnesota in the loop on Liz's pregnancy. He continues it for Madeline and for his family. But in the days, weeks and months after Liz's death, the blog became an Internet phenom. It now gets 1 million to 1.5 million page views per month.
Despite the joy that Maddy brings, Logelin is still coping with his grief.
"Some minutes, I am extremely happy and there are other minutes when I am so down I don't know what to do. That's what I try to convey through the blog," he said.
He admits he's changed in some good ways, too. Liz was a social butterfly. Before her death, he preferred to stay in the background and was terrified of public speaking.
"It's opened me up to new experiences," he said. "It's shown me there are people in this world who are absolutely incredible."
Still, he'd give it up in a heartbeat if it meant he could see Liz again.
"I would give every single thing I have except Madeline for five minutes with her. I would love five minutes with her to just tell her a few things. I would give it all up. No doubt about it."
Where do Matt and Maddy go from here? They'll travel whenever they can, just like he and Liz used to do.
He'll tell Maddy stories about her mother. The blog, after all, is ultimately for her. The two of them, along with a nanny, are going to live in India this fall so he can write a book. His proposal started with the sentence, "I'm not a writer." The publisher loved it.
"My goal is to raise a healthy, happy child," he said. "But I also want her to know her mom."