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9-year-old heart recipient's dreams come true with glove from Tiger Woods and trip to the Masters

9-year-old heart recipient meets her idol
9-year-old heart recipient and competitive golfer meets her idol, Tiger Woods 07:04

Jon Rahm walked off the 18th green at Augusta to claim his first Masters championship on Sunday. Just getting to walk the grounds of the historic Augusta national course is a dream for many golf lovers.

For 9-year-old Madelyn Quinn, her path to the Masters was part of her bucket list, which also included meeting her idol, Tiger Woods. And she may not have done either without her new heart — which is something of a modern miracle.

Madelyn was born with a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart. Her mother said she couldn't gain weight, and that her breathing as a baby was rapid.

She underwent three open heart surgeries.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through, and then it kept getting worse and worse and worse," said her father, Greg Quinn.

At 18 months old, Madelyn was put on a transplant list. Doctors said she needed a bigger heart to maintain function, perhaps from a five year old. Four months later, they got the call: a perfect match had been found. The surgery was a success, and for the first time, Madelyn had rosy cheeks and even an appetite.

Now, she celebrates "heart birthdays."

"I've been living my best life," Madelyn said. "I'm so happy and thankful."

She has also found her passion — and her calling: golfing.

"Whenever I hit a driver, I just feel pumped up and I'm ready," she said. "And I just really like the challenge."

Madelyn, who lives in California, picked up a club for the first time at 2, starting with a toy and quickly moving on to an iron. Her dad, a former PGA pro, started showing her videos of Woods golfing as a child, and says that inspired her. 

"Whenever I have a tournament, my dad always says, 'What's the goal today? And I say, 'It's to have the most fun out here,'" she said.

Madelyn wanted to see Woods play in person, so two months ago, her dad bought tickets to the Genesis Invitational, and Madelyn made a bucket list poster that included meeting Woods.

As luck would have it, Woods' caddy spotted Madelyn's sign and whispered something to Woods, who then came over to her, checked the box on her bucket list sign and handed her a signed glove.

"I'm usually really polite, but he handed me the glove and my dad said, 'Say thank you.' And I'm like, 'Thank- thank you?'"

"I was thinking, 'Wow, that really just happened. I really just met the best golfer in the world,'" she recalled.

After that, there was one more item on her bucket list: the Masters. Her dream is to play the tournament. For now, she got the chance to attend — after a stranger with a connection to Augusta spotted her story on social media and invited her.

"It was just so special that I got to go there," she said. "It was just so green, beautiful. I wanted to go back on the airplane and get my clubs and play all 18 holes."

While play was suspended at times due to rain, Madelyn said she didn't mind getting wet because she was focused on the golf.

"I'm learning from their driving, I'm learning from their fairway hits. I'm learning from their chipping and putting, too," she said.

"I was just picturing me swinging like them, and I'm like, 'I can be as good as them or even better one day,'" she added.

Pushing through adversity from the very beginning seems to have given young Madeline a sensitivity that transcends her age. She said she enjoys telling her story to make people happy.

Her family says they never forget the kindness of strangers, especially the family that gave their daughter a heart.

"There is hope. There is some good that can come from everything," Alyson Quinn said.

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