I have this woman in my life who dedicates much of her year to raising money to help families and their babies be born healthy and strong. She has done so for the past 8 years and this year is no different. I’ve shared her story on Women You Should Know and I wanted to share a more personal account of her story here on my blog.
Mackenzie Manning-Mogan Schmidt is my cousin, but more like my sister. She has been by my side through every life event since I was born. She has encouraged me, given me advice, saved me from horrible mistakes and loved me through the ones I made anyway. In 2007, she faced the hardest day of her life and while I was able to be by her side for some of it, I wasn’t able to do what I wish I could have for her. I now try to give her the support that she’s always given me.
In April 2007, she was 3 days away from the due date of her second child. She found out that baby Dakota no longer had a heart beat. She delivered a still born baby on April 17, 2007. She buried him April 27th on her 28th birthday. Mackenzie, her husband and a few friends and family members participated in their first March for Babies on April 29, 2007. Since this horrible tragedy, Mackenzie has set her sights on bigger things that involve helping others. Team Dakota has raised over $50,000 since 2007. Because her son wasn’t able to take his first steps, she has gathered many people to wear his name on their backs and walk for him. April 17th was a horrible day for our family. I can remember picking my sister up from physical therapy early and as she ran to the car, she asked with such excitement “Did Mackenzie have the baby!?” Her facial expression when I told her what had happened, is something that is ingrained in my mind. My sister, has always been extremely close to Mackenzie and this situation broke her. Chandra cried hysterically all the way to the hospital. She couldn’t understand what went wrong and why this had to happen to Mackenzie. She tried to pull herself together as we walked into the hospital room to see her. That day we saw something in our cousin that will stick with us forever. We met a new woman, one that was covered in both sorrow and strength. One who became our hero.
On Sunday, April 27, 2014, which is Mackenzie’s birthday, we will walk for the 8th year in memory of Dakota Everett Schmidt. Many of us will wear TEAM DAKOTA on our backs with pride. Mackenzie is an amazing woman who has shown that tragedy can be turned into something greater than all of us. It can be the motivation to help others. It can be a reason to gather and represent someone who has left an impact on many. None of us ever met Dakota, but we all know who he is. We love him and we show that to his parents and his brother and sister every year.
Below I’ve shared some pictures from the horrible days that followed Dakota’s death. These pictures still bring us to tears but they show the reality of what Mackenzie and her family went through and what many other families experience with the loss of a baby. I’ve also shared the amazing pictures which now represent Dakota’s life.
If you can, please consider donating just $5 to the March of Dimes through Team Dakota. This means everything to Mackenzie and so it means everything to me. Here is the link: www.marchforbabies.org/camogan