Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and simple texting are the types of things most teenage girls spend a large part of their time doing. Finding one who is interested in serving their community and giving back, is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack.
However, the community of Portsmouth has found one very special young lady in MacKenzie Brown.
Brown looks and acts like any other teenage girls, but when one talks with her, one finds a mature young lady with a sincere purpose in life, knows just what she wants to do in her life, and yet, takes time out of her busy schedule to reach out and help others.
Brown, a recent Notre Dame graduate, held a community service camp at the SOMC Friends Center Wednesday called, “Pumped on Insulin.” It is a Juvenile Diabetes Camp held for only one day.
Brown had held this program last year for her River Days’ contestant community service, but wanted to continue this program because it is so near and dear to her heart. She said she had a good outcome last year and wanted to continue it this year. This year’s Miss Notre Dame, Aubrey Bowling is also a diabetic.
Mackenzie is a Type-I Diabetic. She was diagnosed at the age of 9, which makes it nine years she has lived with the disease.
“If you are diagnosed early, you really can’t remember life without diabetes,” Brown said.
When discussing being a teenager with diabetes, Brown said, “ It’s not a problem, it’s just an adjustment that you get used to.”
Brown uses an insulin pump and she usually gives herself insulin when she eats or when her sugar gets high, maybe five or six times a day. However, her pump gives her a small amount of insulin called, “active insulin” throughout the day. She stated that she really has had no major issues with her insulin at this point.
Mary Arnzen, the major gift and plan-giving officer at the SOMC Development Foundation, was there at the camp, she stated that this is one of the funds they have at the center, the Type-I Diabetes Fund.
“MacKenzie helps us raise money at Notre Dame Schools and that’s one of the things we like to do with the fund, we want to do this, to offer to our community, so that kids of all ages, can be with kids who are in the same boat that they are,” Arnzen said.
Looking around the SOMC Friends Center that day, there were balloons, superhero capes, beautiful colorful tables, nice red shirts for each camper, hero backpacks for everyone, just a haven of things to catch anyone’s attention. Brown had activities scheduled throughout the day for her campers.
“The Happy Pot is coming and the participants are going to paint their own picture frames, there is going to be a drumming classes taught by one of the instructors here at the life center, the participants are also going to have swimming and watch a movie, there’s a slide show and a type of counseling center where groups sit in circles and they can talk about what it’s like having diabetes, their major struggles, and of course, there is going to be food,” Brown said.
One of the tables had snacks, like bananas and other diabetic accepted snacks. There is no age limit on Brown’s program. For this day, there were some as young as three, continuing through teenage years. There was even one camper and his grandmother, who traveled three hours from Camdon, Ohio, just to attend the camp.
This fall, Brown plans to attend Shawnee State University to go through the pre-med program and she wants to major in biological sciences. She then plans to go on to med school where she wants her major to be pediatric endocrinology.
“So I can give back to my community,” Brown said. “There is not an endocrinologist around here, you have to go hours away to go to the doctor, I actually have to go to one Friday in Cincinnati. A diabetic should go every three to four months, but sometimes I’m too busy to go that often.”
She also said that sometimes some families cannot afford to go that far away and with this camp, they can help these people find a way to do just that. She says they can come up with food vouchers and such, so that those who need to go to the doctor out of town, can, This is just another way one can see, MacKenzie is such an unusual and wonderful young lady. It takes lots of time and effort to plan this camp and other things like it for diabetics & others, but she has made it her goal to take time to do just that, giving back to help others who, just like her, have struggled with Type I-Diabetes or are just starting to learn to live with it. The smiles on the children who were entering the camp, shows just how much she is appreciated and special to others.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext.1928