HLC Chats With Mackenzie Anderson

Mackenzie Anderson is an HLC Young Ambassador and has attended many of our HLC programs, including Camp HLC. When her mother, Susan, was diagnosed with ALS, Mackenzie became an ALS Advocate, raising funds for both Hope Loves Company and other ALS organizations! Every year, Hope Loves Company awards an HLC Ambassador the Susan Anderson Scholarship Award in Susan's honor and memory. Mackenzie was the first recipient. Read on to learn a little more about Mackenzie and her journey with ALS.

Mackenzie with her mom, Susan.

(HLC): Do you have a nick name? How did you get it? 

(MA): Kenzie - just a simple shortening of my full name.

(HLC): What is your favorite childhood memory? (MA): My favorite childhood memory is going away for Columbus Day weekend. Growing up in Massachusetts, we were always given a long weekend for this holiday in October. Each year, my family would pick a different place in New England to visit. We've gone everywhere from New Hampshire to Vermont to Quebec, CA. I always look back so fondly on those trips with my family.

(HLC): Camp HLC is one of our wonderful programs. Have you ever attended a summer camp? If yes what was your favorite memory about camp?

(MA): I've had the fortunate opportunity to attend several camps during my youth, such as basketball and horse camp. However, my favorite camp memory now is the first Camp HLC I attended in May 2015. My mom was just diagnosed with ALS that past August and I felt so alone, as I knew no one else my age experiencing what I was going through. Going to Camp HLC was the first time I felt like I could truly be a kid again since I had become a child caregiver for my mom.

Camp HLC at Fairview Lake, 2016.

(HLC): Who is  your favorite musician? 

(MA): It's so hard to pick just one. Music has been a love of mine since I was young. I love everything from Ed Sheeran to Thomas Rhett to Taylor Swift to Khalid. There's truly not one genre of music I dislike - not even heavy metal!

(HLC): Do you have a pet companion? If so, please share his/her name and what you love most about him/her

(MA): My family has an English Springer Spaniel named Abby, who is 16 years old! She's mostly blind and fully deaf in one ear, but she's still pushing. What I love most about her is that my mom picked her out when we adopted her, and would always say, right up until she passed, "Abby is a good dog".

(HLC): People would be surprised to know that....  (cool fact about you!) 

(MA): I don't know if this is "cool", but I still have 2 baby teeth at 21 years old. There are no teeth under them and they are still hanging on (by a thread, haha). I am surprised that they made it through all of my tough basketball games.

(HLC): What is one thing you can share with others about resilience and adversity? 

(MA): It gets easier. I know it's cliche, but while watching my mom suffer from ALS at only 17 years old, I thought it never would get better. Now, 3 years since her passing, holidays and her death anniversary are still tough, but most days are filled with happy memories of her, rather than sadness.

(HLC): What's your go to person, book or movie for inspiration? 

(MA): My go-to person for inspiration is Jodi, the founder of HLC. She truly knows how to brighten up anyone's day just with her radiating smile and positive attitude. I never knew someone so short and small could give such a powerful, loving hug. As for the favorite book, I would say 'Option B' by Sheryl Sandberg, as she talks about her devastating time losing her husband, and I found myself relating to many of the things she wrote about. And as for movies, I am a huge movie guru! The best inspirational movies, in my opinion, would be 'Forrest Gump,' 'Slumdog Millionaire,' or 'Good Will Hunting.'

(HLC): If you have a go to resource (website, blog, etc...) that you think would help others, please share it! 

(MA): My go-to resource is HLC (:

(HLC): We are so happy that you're a part of the Hope Loves Company family.

(HLC): Share something that you want others to know about ALS...

(MA): Most people will say that with ALS, at least the victim of the disease still has their memory and is the same mentally. However, this is sadly not always the case. In my mom's experience, she also suffered from FTD, frontal temporal dementia, which affected her personality and memory, in addition to ALS taking away her ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe. So, just be mindful that some ALS patients may also suffer from memory loss.

Thank you Mackenzie for participating in HLC's #ALSAwarenessMonth campaign, HLC Chats With. We are so fortunate to know Mackenzie and her family! Mackenzie was recently published in Scientific American, where she discusses her personal journey with ALS. Read more here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/i-hate-the-month-of-may/.

#ALS #HopeLovesCompany #HLC #CampHLC #ALSAdvocate #ALSAdvocacy