Aiming High

April 25, 2012

MacKenzie MacDonald has faced many challenges growing up. She and her parents found ways to overcome -- and Special Olympics was a big part of that. It still is.

300x200-MacKenzie-swim

MacKenzie has been setting high goals for herself, both in sports and in life.

A Tough Road

When she was a little girl, MacKenzie MacDonald wanted to be just like her older sisters, who were standout players on their sports teams. But MacKenzie had some health issues -- including pituitary dwarfism -- and an intellectual disability. She spent years undergoing experimental treatment for dwarfism that involved, among other things, receiving an injection every night from age 2 to 15.

There were other challenges, especially by the time MacKenzie got to middle school. "To be honest, in school, people with intellectual disabilities don't always have an easy path," recalls her dad. "There were hard times trying to fit in and make new friends."


300x200-MacKenzie-ski

Years ago, Steve MacDonald helped his daughter learn to ski by hitting the slopes with a rope tied around both their waists. Now, she leaves Dad behind as a Special Olympics cross-country skiier.

The Power of Sports

Getting in good physical shape was important for MacKenzie, but Special Olympics offered something more. "It gave her the chance to be part of a group, like our other children," says her dad, Steve MacDonald. "It was also great because through sports, you learn about teamwork -- how to cooperate and work together."

Through sports, MacKenzie learned to set goals -- and achieve them. Her dad says, "She felt success -- and her confidence soared," which helped her excel at swimming, track, cycling and skiing. Her dad also says that discipline also helped her in school and beyond.

Special Olympics has made such an impact on MacKenzie’s life that when she graduated from high school, she wanted her senior class picture taken with her Special Olympics medals . She has also made many friends through Special Olympics – lifelong friends she enjoys to this day.


Giving Back to Her Community

 MacKenzie’s road wasn’t easy, but she took it all in stride. Now 28, MacKenzie stands a proud 5-foot-4. She also continues to work hard to achieve her goals -- no matter how high she sets them. And she sets them high: the toddler once diagnosed with dwarfism has grown up to be a skilled basketball player!

Special Olympics sports also gave MacKenzie skills to succeed outside the playing field and in life. These days, she works in the lunchroom at a local high school and volunteers to help physically challenged athletes at Special Olympics events. "She knows everybody -- and they know her," says her dad. "Because she's a joy to be around."

Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Our Supporters

The Christmas Records TrustFunding Special Olympics work worldwide.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaSupports Special Olympics Team USA.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Coca-ColaOfficial global partner of Special Olympics.
Learn More »


Our Supporters

ESPNWorldwide support for Unified Sports.Learn More »


Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Health One GlobalGlobal health data technology partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Hear the WorldSupplies hearing aids to our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MattelSupports various youth programs.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Procter & GambleProvides marketing campaigns that support our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »


Special Olympics Blog

Bursting with Pride

"I’m looking forward to the day when Mary will become a Special Olympics Young Athlete. I cannot wait."read more »

Posted on 2014-07-25 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan