Mackenzie Kurnath

November 29th, 2012 was the day my life changed forever. Like any oth­er day, I was eating lunch at our local diner when I received a worrisome phone call from my mom. She never told me what was wrong, but I knew from the tone of her voice I should rush home. I thought I was in trouble. Maybe my room was a mess, or I left the hair straightener on. But never did the thought cross my mom that my dad was in a car accident that left him paralyzed. Even to this day, saying the words, “my dad is paralyzed,” brings my stomach to knots. The burden an accident like this put on our family is tremendous. From financial struggles to learning to function without my dad as present as he used to be, the accident has certainly challenged our family to the highest level. However, this accident has tru­ly taught me that within every bad situation life throws at you, something good will always come out of it if you stay strong and positive. For me, that good was the organiza­tion Kids’ Chance of New Jersey.

Thanks to Kids’ Chance of NJ, I am pursuing my dream of being a fashion major at the University of Delaware. This summer has been particularly special to me because I have finally been able to utilize all the skills I’ve learned during my past three years as I took on a position to work with the assistant buyer of all University Barnes and Nobles in the South. This job has reassured me that I chose the right career path and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the future as I continue to learn and grow in this industry. As I am approaching my senior year, I am reminded of how I never could have made it this far without the support of my family and Kid’s Chance. I had doubted my ability many times whether or not I would be able to pursue everything I had hoped for before my dad’s injury, but with the constant support of everyone involved in this organization I have been able to accomplish more than I could have imagined. I am especially proud to announce that I was named on the Dean’s List this past Spring which I hope to accomplish in my last semesters as well. I am beyond excited to start and finish my senior year with a bang, and I can’t wait to keep you all updated as the future I have always dreamt of begins to unfold.

Finally, I would like to recognize that The Kids ‘Chance Organization gave me the hope that my dad’s accident doesn’t mean my dream of going to college and having a bright future is no longer possible. This Organization is a daily reminder that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and that the journey towards the light doesn’t always have to be alone. I am grateful to have been chosen to receive The Ted Smyk Memorial & KCNJ Scholarship. Without the generosity of those who donated in memory of Ted Smyk, there is no way financially I could be attending my dream school, The University of Delaware. This award has inspired me to work hard, focus on my education and achieve the success to enable me to give back. What Kids’ Chance of New Jersey has done for me is truly a gift that goes beyond just money; it’s a gift that will stay with me forever.