Originally from Clemmons and now a Lake Norman and Charlotte-area transplant, Madison Callaghan has always been driven to help others in their journeys.
From young children in Thailand, to helping families find their first home in Charlotte, she’s a true inspiration, having started her first company at the age of 20. Blessed with an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit, Madison founded a swimsuit line – Bongani Swimwear – with each piece inspired by an amazing person who had touched her life! Each swimsuit is designed to embody the unique, true story behind its name. Her line benefits the charity United through Sport – the perfect choice. “Playing sports can provide an outlet for people facing overwhelming obstacles in life,” she says.
Having grown up with depression, it was easy for Madison to relate, and to know firsthand that sports can be a huge source of motivation, confidence, and resolve.
“I believe every child should have the opportunity to play,” she says. “This charity reflects my hope to provide more opportunity to those who need it most. I do believe children are our future!”
That’s also why she started her own non-profit three years ago – the Madison Callaghan Foundation – with the mantra of “Every Child, Every Right.” Her charity advocates for children’s rights, providing educational materials, sporting equipment, and scholarships on a global level.
As fate would have it, a global opportunity presented itself, allowing Madison to reach children on an international level. Her participation in the Miss Grand International competition has offered her a chance to impact others in a variety of positive ways.
“The state director for Miss Grand North Carolina approached me, having seen the charity events I host within the Carolinas, and felt the Miss Grand Organization would be the perfect fit for me,” says Madison. “I looked into the organization and their mission fit with what I was trying to do within my community, and I’m all about raising awareness to as many people as possible. So, the platform that I could gain with potentially becoming Miss Grand USA seemed like a dream come true.”
Madison did indeed become Miss Grand North Carolina and went on to Chicago to compete for Miss Grand United States 2021, where she was crowned by Abena Akuaba, the first Miss Grand USA and first African American to win Miss Grand International. She then went on to Miss Grand International in Thailand to compete for an entire month representing the USA and speaking about her passion of advocating for youth.
“I decided to go to Thailand two weeks early to really show I wasn’t there just to win a competition, but to use my non-profit to reach outside the United States,” says Madison. “I started traveling across Thailand visiting orphanages and various organizations across the country. I was especially taken with the Phuket Sunshine Orphanage, a foster home for approximately 90 children in need. The village focuses on family-based, long-term care of children, trying to reunite them with family, when conditions are safe. They experience reliable relationships and so much love from the incredible staff.”
In Thailand Miss Grand Queens are treated much like celebrities and Madison put that opportunity to good use by donating school supplies, food, and games to the entire village.
“Meeting 70 other ladies from all across the world was an experience I’m forever grateful for,” explains Madison, who loved hearing that what brought most of them there was exactly what brought her there. They, too, saw a need for change within the world they live in, and wanted to take a stand. “It was so empowering to hear about everyone’s good works.”
After early high school graduation to pursue a modeling career, Madison attended the School of Broadcasting in Charlotte, and after graduating, worked within the world of sports journalism (including the Carolina Panthers!), but felt like she wasn’t quite where she wanted to be.
“I grew up seeing my parents flip houses and create custom homes, so the real estate world always fascinated me, “she explains. “It seemed like the perfect fit, and with all the areas of the U.S. I’ve worked in, they all seemed to have one common factor — the lack of accessibility to housing, and especially affordable housing. I knew I could really make a change here.”
Madison joined Henderson Ventures, a firm powered by Compass and owned by Nilou and Gerald Henderson, that specializes in clients within the sports and entertainment business. Now settled into a real estate career, Madison says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love being part of someone’s journey to find their perfect first home and being by their side to find what is right for them – a place they can call home in peace.”
She has also fallen in love with the organization Gracious Hands, a non-profit she supports that serves homeless women and children in the Charlotte area. Gracious Hands provides a temporary home, equipped with the necessary resources to “love women and children back to life.” Her next fund-raising event for Gracious Hands will be held October 6 at 6:00 p.m., at The Bazal Gallery Nightclub in Charlotte. Contact Madison (see below!) for more information.
Madison’s lifelong mission says it best: “Every child deserves the opportunity to love, live, and learn in peace, and it’s up to us to make sure children are given the resources they need to succeed.”
You can reach Madison Callaghan at 704-915-5271, or at email@example.com, and follow her on Instagram @madisoncallaghanrealty.