Patients at Seattle Children’s are benefiting from yet another fundraising project from 14-year-old Makenna Schwab, whose fearless determination in raising thousands of dollars has allowed the hospital to purchase a special X-ray machine to help treat other kids like her.
To celebrate Makenna’s latest fundraising project, which collected $25,000 for the purchase of a 3D low dose radiation X-ray machine called the EOS, Seattle Children’s threw her a heartfelt thank you party. At her celebration, there was no shortage of smiles, laughter and hugs — all for one special teen whose enthusiasm to give is boundless.
“This was more than I ever expected,” said Makenna. “It was so great seeing everyone who has supported me over the years in one room. It made me feel really special.”
Giving back to her second home
For more than 6 years, Makenna has dedicated herself to several fundraising projects with a common goal — to help other kids like her.
Before her charitable passion began to flourish at the age of 8, Makenna faced a multitude of medical challenges beginning at birth.
“I was born with Larsen syndrome, which is a rare skeletal condition that causes my bones to dislocate easily,” explained Makenna. “Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of my life at Seattle Children’s. It has become like a second home to me.”
Makenna has had numerous surgeries, including one this past December that marked her 15th surgery.
“After a few years of being able to walk on her own, she began having pain in her left leg,” said Makenna’s mother, Melissa Schwab. “Eventually she lost all mobility and became wheelchair-bound.”
That’s when doctors recommended she have surgery to reconstruct her leg, which would ultimately help restore Makenna’s mobility and alleviate the pain.
“The difference the surgery made was truly amazing,” said Schwab. “The Seattle Children’s orthopedics team are miracle workers.”
Makenna is walking again and says she owes it all to the doctors, nurses and medical staff she’s formed bonds with throughout the years.
“Watching Makenna progress over the years has been remarkable,” said, chief of foot and ankle medicine and surgery at Seattle Children’s and one of Makenna’s surgeons. “Although she lives with a rare condition, you can see that she’s able to move beyond it with such grace and perseverance.”
Her charitable spirit awakens
Over the years, Makenna’s fundraising efforts have gone from small-scale projects like selling cookies and lemonade, to raising thousands of dollars for breakthrough medical technology.
Schwab believes her daughter’s spirit to give back came from her experiences at Seattle Children’s.
“Makenna has gained a unique perspective on life,” said Schwab. “Not only was she a patient, but she saw her cousin battling cancer at the hospital, as well as friends from her hometown struggling with various medical challenges.”
These significant events sparked a giving fire within Makenna.
At age 5, she was introduced to Make A Difference Day, a national day of service that empowers people of all ages to volunteer or fundraise for a charitable cause of their choosing. When Makenna learned that a friend was participating in a Make A Difference Day project, she eagerly joined by helping to pass out cookies to residents of an assisted living home.
As soon as she was able to start her very own project, Makenna knew exactly where she wanted her fundraising focus to be.
“I simply wanted to give back to the place that’s given me so much,” said Makenna. “My goal is to make a difference to the kids just like me at Seattle Children’s. That’s why I named my fundraising project, ‘Kids Helping Kids’.”
Makenna’s generous spirit blossomed as she continued to set her fundraising sights higher each year.
In 2015, Makenna’s outstanding efforts were recognized in a big way. Make A Difference Day awarded her with a $10,000 grant provided by Newman’s Own.
Her winning project was a toy drive she held in her hometown of Wenatchee, Washington. With an original goal of raising enough money to purchase five red Radio-Flyer wagons, she was able to accumulate way more donations than she expected due to the generosity and support from her community.
In total, Makenna collected 33 wagons, 36 DVD players, 12 headphones, five baby swings, 280 gift cards and more than 1,300 toys and toiletries, among other things.
All the items collected were part of the hospital’s greatest needs list including the wagons, which hold a special place in her heart.
“I love seeing kids around the hospital riding one of the wagons I donated,” said Makenna. “I remember how much I enjoyed riding in them when I couldn’t move because of the casts I had to wear. I’m so happy that other kids can feel that same enjoyment.”
Celebrating $25K for a safer X-ray
To celebrate Makenna’s latest fundraising success of raising $25,000 for the hospital to purchase the EOS X-ray machine, hospital staff and members of the orthopedics team, who had suggested the fundraising idea, honored her with a joyful gathering comprised of a ribbon-cutting, delicious goodies and a surprise video message from Makenna’s celebrity friend and fellow philanthropist, Chris Pratt.
“When Makenna received the $10,000 grant, she decided to ask for recommendations from her doctors on how she should use it,” said Schwab. “Dr. Mosca was one of the people who told her about the EOS machine and how it could benefit future patients.”
With the $10,000, plus an additional $15,000 raised, Makenna decided to put all the money toward the purchase of the machine.
The EOS, which emits a low dose of radiation and takes full-body 3D images in a single scan allowing for more accuracy in determining proper treatment, will help current and future patients for years to come.
“On average, I visit the hospital every other month and I frequently have to get X-rays,” said Makenna. “Knowing the EOS was safer than a regular X-ray machine, I knew it would benefit not only me, but other kids out there like me.”
Makenna’s care team at Seattle Children’s has watched her develop into the happy and selfless person she is today.
“At such a young age, Makenna has become an incredible philanthropist,” said Mosca. “Without a doubt, she will be a successful leader.”
Her philanthropy won’t be coming to an end anytime soon. Makenna already has ambitious plans in place for her next big project.
“We support her in every way we can,” said Schwab. “The fundraising she does empowers her and seeing it all come to fruition makes us so proud.”