Madison Lewandowski has won herself an opportunity that other kids would kill for-she is going to be paid $100 an hour to play. The 10-year-old applied in February when ToyQuest began a search for its first child toy tester for its BANZAI line of toys. Lewandowski’s application, composed of an essay about why she deserved to be the first toy tester as well as a self-made video showing ToyQuest who she was and what she liked to do, was chosen from among a couple hundred. “She makes you smile the minute you look at her,” says ToyQuest’s Licensing Manager Tonia Nessl, who was also struck by Lewandowski’s “amazing spirit.”
ToyQuest stumbled across the idea of employing a child toy tester during some brainstorming for “a new way to promote the brand and to get new insight,” into the toys-what better way than to get the input of a child who would use the toys? The company advertised for any children over the age of nine who wanted to spend a day playing on and rating the BANZAI line, which is predominantly made up of water toys such as pools, slides, and water blasters.
ToyQuest was hoping to find a child who-besides being athletic, fun-loving, and energetic—could articulate his or her opinions about the BANZAI experience. Not only did Lewandowski fit the bill in all of these categories, but she also showed an entrepreneurial side that appealed to ToyQuest. She started her own business in 2006, Maddie’s Monkey Business, making jewelry, picture frames, and visors. Two years later Lewandowski created her own non-profit, Kidz for a Cure, to raise money to help cure pediatric cancer. Apart from running Maddie’s Monkey Business and Kidz for a Cure, Lewandowski enjoys reading, writing, gymnastics, dancing, and singing. “I’m practicing to be a motivational speaker,” she said, explaining that she has given talks on the power of belief and not giving up at the Kiwanis Club, to Moms in Motion, and at Girls Inc.