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Monday, August 20, 2012

Mackenzie's Letter

I'd like you to meet my pal Mackenzie. She's 10 years old now, but I met her back when she was four - I worked for her family as a "personal assistant" for some time several years ago. This essentially meant that I was an extra set of helping hands with the every day things that Mackenzie needed to do - physical therapy, school, meals, homework, games, etc. We did it all, and I formed a great relationship with both Mackenzie and her amazing mother, Christine (who took and/or provided most of these photos).

Mackenzie needs a helper because she has cerebral palsy, which in Kenzie's case basically means that her legs don't work the way they are supposed to (there are other physical difficulties as well,  such as a lack of fine motor skills in her hands, etc). Since I've known her, Mackenzie has made great progress in dealing with these physical difficulties, but they are something that she will deal with her entire life. 

When she was younger, Mackenzie used a special walker to get around (as seen in the photo above). These days, though, Mackenzie uses a motorized wheelchair - and you better watch your toes, because she's FEARLESS in that thing. 

Here she is being fearless AND toothless. 
Here's a photo from a couple of years ago of Kenz in her chair rockin' out on my keyboard when she, Christine, and Kenzie's brother came to visit me in Brooklyn. (That's me pretending I know how to play the guitar.) As you can see, Mackenzie has many interests.

Mackenzie's pretty much the greatest kid I've ever met, and this would be true whether or not she had CP. She's funny, highly intelligent, observant, sweet, sensitive, and silly. She's also incredibly resilient; the challenges she faces are beyond my comprehension, and knowing her has been life-changing for me. She's an inspiration, in a very real way.

The photo below is from my birthday a few years ago. Christine and Kenzie took me out to lunch when I was visiting home, and Kenz brought a special surprise: a copy of Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Suess. She read it out loud to me as we waited for our food - a great gift for a librarian - but she ended up laughing more than she read (which was just fine by me!)   

Dr. Seuss words are HARD.

Christine told me that Kenzie is getting more and more self-aware about her disability - I guess it's a function of growing up, and the fact that her "differences" are becoming more pronounced to her as she compares herself to her friends and classmates. Even though she sometimes feels sad or frustrated, however, Mackenzie has great spirit and optimism and does most everything that "typical" kids do, and then some. She even can ride a bike! 

Recently, Mackenzie wrote a letter to her favorite singer, Taylor Swift. Now, the letter might not make you cry like it made me cry, (the mere fact that her handwriting is so painfully neat as compared to past letters indicates how hard she must have worked on it) but I hope you can tell how special a kid Kenz is. It would be so much fun - and a dream come true for Kenzie -  to show Taylor Swift how special she is too. (Edit: I've blurred out Kenzie's last name and phone number for safety purposes, but I can easily provide them if Taylor wants to call - I know she's busy and a visit might be difficult right now.) ;)

Mackenzie's mom has created a hashtag on Twitter to try to get Taylor Swift to see this letter. I wanted to help in any way I could, and I figured posting it on my blog and tweeting it was a start. If anyone else out there wants to do the same, the hashtag is #kenztaylor and Taylor Swift's Twitter handle is @taylorswift13. It's the least I can do to give something back to Mackenzie - she's given so much to me, even if she doesn't know it. 


  1. This is awesome of you Rita! I really hope Kenz gets to meet Taylor (or at least talk to her). Thank you for writing such a wonderful post about Kenz.

    Love, her Aunt Marilyn

  2. Yes, this was a great story (I cried too when I read the letter). I'll be sure to spread the word!

    -Sarah (Kenzie's cousin)

    1. thank you sarah had fun at Disney with you!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Titanium, Cloud 9,

      From Mackenzie

    2. Iu, want to bounce with Tigga. want to go bouncy bouncy bouncy with Tigga

      Globed glop Globed He He He He Her Herdy Herdy her
      FRom Jack and

  3. This was an awesome story about Kenz! I hope she gets to meet Taylor some day soon. If you want to contribute to our website we would love to have you write and share more about caring for Kenz.

    Cerebral Palsy Family Network.

  4. Thanks, guys! And thank you to everyone who has read, shared, retweeted, and lent support! The response has been great and I really appreciate it.

  5. Oh, this must happen. :::scurries off to Twitter & FB:::

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  8. Hi. this is an inspiring story. thank you very much because youve been a good personal assistant to this kid. I wish i found a personalassistentin bern like you.