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Sunday, August 7, 2022

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Kids to Know: Maisy Kiefer

If you haven’t met Maisy Kiefer yet, consider this a surprise summer gift! Maisy represents everything that is good in this world. She has the perfect innocence and softness of any 7-year-old girl but carries a level of confidence and awareness far beyond her years.

Maisy’s family met her at birth and made her adoption final after 482 days. In that time, Maisy overcame setbacks and challenges over and over again.

Maisy has garnered local recognition through her involvement with Gigi’s Playhouse, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that offers the only network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers to provide life-changing therapeutic, educational and career training programs at no cost.

Her adoring family (including eight brothers and sisters!) is equally as unforgettable. Maisy with her mother, Michelle Kiefer, tell us why she is a kid to know in Tampa Bay and beyond.

TBPM: You’ve been described as “the best” from our mutual friend Sean Daly, as “magical” by your peers at the model shoot for local brand Wee Macree, and as a “blessing” by your family. Tell us more about you and why you think you’ve captured the attention and the hearts of so many in our Tampa Bay community.

Maisy: I’m special because I love everybody, and everybody loves me. I make you happy. And I like my hair!

Michelle: Maisy has a special quality that simply draws people in. She is extremely sweet, but topped off with just the right amount of sass!

We’ve been delighted to make such wonderful connections in Tampa, including having the opportunity to participate in a super fun interview at Gigi’s Playhouse with Sean Daly, where Maisy decided to take the mic and took charge of the interview!

Sean was so gracious and went right along with it, following her lead. Last year while attending a Tampa Bay Lightning game (courtesy of the Lightning Foundation), Maisy was spotted in the crowd by Alex Killorn who called us down to the bench and gave her a puck. She was thrilled!

She absolutely remembers that night and still talks about it! I truly believe it is Maisy’s purity and approach to life that draws people to her. She embraces both life and those around her with love, acceptance and excitement. It’s a cinch to be completely in love with Maisy Kay! And she’s right… Her hair is phenomenal! Those curls!

TBPM: From your fearlessness to your friendliness, you inspire people, Maisy. Can you talk about what you’ve had to overcome in your life so far? Who inspires you and makes you feel excited about doing more with the gifts you have?

Maisy: Yes, I went to the hospital a lot. I was sick, but now I’m all better. My family makes me happy: Mommy, Daddy, Stevie Joy, Gus, Abi, Sam, Emma, Lily, Sarah, Bryant, Bennett, Claire, Owen, MaeMae, Doodad, Aunt Julie, Uncle Tommy, Megan, Adson, Baby AJ, Molly, CC, Uncle Derrick, Ronnie, Eric, Laila, E-Mama, Judy, Wrigley, Bubbles.

Michelle: She is a graceful little warrior that has overcome more in her seven years of life than many people have to face in a lifetime.

Besides being born with her glorious extra chromosome (Trisomy 21) and having to face some of the challenges that often come along with that, she was also born addicted to meth and had to go through difficult withdrawals.

Maisy has faced several surgeries, and at one point, was near death due to an abscess near her heart. Her medical issues have been the largest part of her journey in regards to challenges, but with each year her health has improved, and we are all deeply thankful.

People that inspire Maisy are family, friends and those who choose to stop and to SEE her. If you take the time to pause and slow down just enough to connect and engage with Maisy, you will find that YOU are inspired by HER and you will also see that SHE is inspired by YOU.

Maisy thrives on connections. She is extraordinarily perceptive and brings out the best in those around her, which in turn brings out the best in her. She is light and love!

Maisy responds well to any encouragement and is fearless to try new things. Those who challenge and encourage her become her inspiration!

TBPM: In a very short time, you’ve learned about give back and the importance of nonprofit involvement. Please share your connections to and participation with local charities.

Maisy: I like Wee Macree and Gigi’s Playhouse! I wear my makeup, my crown and I smile.

Michelle: Maisy was thrilled to be chosen as a model for Wee Macree. She absolutely shines in front of the camera, and is living her best life when she is being photographed!

Inclusion is a big deal and means a ton to Maisy. For her to show up to a photoshoot and be not only welcomed by her peers, but included, goes a long way.

Maisy is very perceptive; she is well aware when she is included and enjoyed and when she is not. Her experience on set with Wee Macree was extremely positive and uplifting to her. To say that she is tender-hearted is an understatement; so, partnering with them was a perfect fit! Maisy loves clothes and fashion.

To be able to purchase clothing that supports important causes is the icing on the cake in our relationship with Wee Macree. Maisy is also very involved at Gigi’s Playhouse (a Down syndrome achievement center in Tampa).

She has participated in their fashion show and also the “Windows Campaign,” which raises money to help fund programs for the Playhouse. Maisy is proud to be a model for Gigi’s as well!

TBPM: Your family is so big and so diverse! Tell us about your parents, your sisters and your brothers.

Maisy: I love my mommy. We like to hold hands and go to the beach and sing and dance. I like daddy. He’s funny and he makes me laugh. I love my brothers and sisters. We have fun together.

Michelle: Maisy is indeed a part of a large and ethnically diverse family! She is one of nine children, eight of which are adopted.

Their ages range from 37 to 4. My husband, Steve, and I were married in 1993, and after a few years, began our journey of adoption. Through both private adoption and foster care, our family has continued to grow.

We affectionately refer to the six oldest kids as the “O.G.” kids, and the youngest three (including Maisy) as their “2.0” kids. This is due to the fact that we thought we were done adopting, but decided (with the strong desire and help from the older children) to re-engage in the foster care system.

We have one set of twins in the family, and Maisy is considered one in a set of “fwins” (fake twins). She has a sister, Stevie Joy, that is just 6 weeks older than her. The Kiefer family has a unique and complex story and Maisy is a vital part of it.

TBPM: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Maisy: I wanna be taller than mom. I will do fashion shows and be a dance teacher.

Michelle: We also asked her if she wants to be modeling on the catwalk when she is grown, and she responded with a passionate “YEAH BABY!”

TBPM: Do you have any hobbies or special talents?

Maisy: I sing and dance and play makeup. I love to play ‘Annie.’ I model at fashion shows.

Michelle: If you have seen Maisy in action then you will agree that she SHINES on the catwalk!  She has never been coached or instructed, but simply takes the stage by storm.

Recently when she participated in the “Inspire the Bay” Fashion Show, Maisy decided to start the show herself when things weren’t moving along fast enough for her. She escaped the waiting area and hit the catwalk full steam ahead!

Fashion shows have become one of her very favorite hobbies! Maisy is nuts over the movie “Annie,” and loves to dress up and reenact her favorite scenes and songs. She knows every word and every song.

Singing, dancing and putting on makeup bring her great joy! She spends quite a bit of time giving her baby dolls makeovers, and occasionally even applying lipstick to her entire closet door because she thinks it needs more color. Swimming is something else Maisy enjoys and does quite often.

TBPM: What is your favorite thing to do in school?

Maisy: I like to write my name and I love drawing pictures. I count and say my ABCs.

Michelle: Maisy is homeschooled and has just completed the first grade. One of Maisy’s favorite things to do in school is to “fake sleep” by putting her head on the table and loudly snoring to interrupt the lesson when she is bored.

She loves to make people laugh! Maisy is a hard worker and has spent this school year focusing on learning the alphabet, counting, spelling and writing. She loves books and being read to as well.

A big part of Maisy’s educational experience are her therapies. Maisy spends quite a bit of time in speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Although these therapies are often challenging for her, she greets each session with determination and usually with joy.

Occasionally she chooses to be noncompliant and grouchy, which is a great reminder for us all that she is like everyone else… she has good days and bad days, and that is perfectly okay!

TBPM: What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa?

Maisy: I like the zoo and the museum. I like the Tampa Bay Lightning. I like church.

Michelle: We are going to have to go with a top 4 list for Maisy’s favorite things to do in Tampa! She simply refused to choose just one.

Maisy has been to Zoo Tampa a few times and loves it! She enjoys all of the animals and couldn’t get enough of the safari ride!

She also enjoys the Glazer Children’s Museum. She runs from exhibit to exhibit so excited to experience everything they have to offer.

She has only been once, but still talks about her time at the Tampa Bay Lightning game. She was all about the action, the music, and cheered with so much passion when the players got heated on the ice. The excitement and energy at Amalie Arena had her pumped and engaged the entire game!

Maisy also really enjoys her church. Whether she is participating in the children’s activities or singing on the stage, Maisy is always thrilled to be there. It is a second home to her.


Photo credit: Megan Renee Photography | Originally published in the July 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Julie Tingleyhttps://weemacree.com/
Julie Tingley introduced the KNOW Women community to Tampa Bay, and founded Wee Macree, a purpose-driven brand for kids. She is a 10-year Tampa transplant who has found her way through many professional and parenting transitions by maintaining focus on her vision of a better future for, and daily inspiration, her daughters Ella and Kate.

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