More than 2,000 adoring fans lined Cuthbertson Road on August 12, from Five Stones Church to the Millbridge neighborhood. They cheered, waved and held posters high for a newly-crowned local princess. Three-year-old Mackenzie Lynn Barron looked out in awe from her horse and carriage as it galloped down Cuthbertson and Kensington Roads. An entire loving entourage was in tow, including the Parkwood High School Horn and Drummer Section, the Waxhaw Police Department, The Hometown Heroes motorcyclists and more.
The summer afternoon started with the Barron family arriving at Five Stones Church in a Pink Cadillac Escalade limousine driven by Waxhaw Police Officer Vic Montalvo. The Church facility was transformed into a beautiful castle and the family enjoyed a tea party before the Miss North Carolina Organization crowned Mackenzie a Miss North Carolina Honorary Princess in front of 700 members of the Five Stones congregation. During the ceremony that didn’t leave one eye dry, Pastor Ralph Owen led prayers for the family and several Miss NC titleholders performed. The program ended with video messages from Miss North Carolina Laura Matrazzo, former Miss America Betty Cantrell Maxwell and Heather Henry French, and athletic star Tim Tebow wishing Princess Mackenzie love and encouragement.
“The event was a complete surprise to us,” says Thomas Barron, Mackenzie’s father. “We cannot be more grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support. We truly thank everyone that came out for her and made her a Princess!”
About eight weeks ago, Mackenzie hit her head hard enough to cause her parents to take her to the emergency room. During a routine CT scan, doctors noticed a pink spot on her brain. They ordered an MRI that was performed on June 15. The diagnosis was a devastating shock to her family: Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a terminal brain cancer. Less than 300 children are diagnosed with this rare cancer each year and the average expected time is 18 months. Since the diagnosis, the Barron family—dad Thomas, mom Lynn, brother Noah and sister Kayla—have been through a whirlwind of doctor appointments, treatments, emotions and activity to help Mackenzie. She completed six weeks of radiation on August 17 at Levine Cancer Institute Radiation Oncology Center. The family then headed back home to Nebraska to spend much-needed time with family and friends.
Strong and Supportive Community
When Preston Davis of The Team Ally Foundation saw Mackenzie’s story on social media, he immediately knew Mackenzie should be a Team Ally Kid. The Foundation after Preston’s daughter Ally battled Lymphoma at 11 years old. The young girl decided she wanted to give back and make other kids going through the cancer journey feel as special as others made her feel during her medical treatments. To help Mackenzie, Team Ally contacted Amanda Basinger with the Miss Charlotte Mecklenburg Organization, the local franchise of Miss North Carolina and Miss America. Basinger and the Miss Charlotte Organization put together the royal event fit for a princess.
The Barron family’s next stop during the last week of August is Disney World, thanks to the Piedmont South Carolina Make-a-Wish Foundation. After spending time with Mickey, Minnie and friends, Mackenzie and family will set off to the Cincinatti Children’s Hospital to participate in a clinical trial. As expected, medical and travel expenses for treatment exponentially add up. Support from families and organizations from the local communities continues to be both a help and inspiration to the Barron family.
Neighbors, friends and local citizens that lined Waxhaw’s street earlier this month are a testament to how the community pulls together to support a family, not just financially, but emotionally as well. “We are here because it gives us a chance to provide hope for Mackenzie,” said Jason Desper, who, along with his wife, brought their two sons to cheer Mackenzie. “It’s an opportunity to show love to the family and make this day as special as possible for them.”
William Kontakis spent the afternoon of his ninth birthday in front of Cuthbertson Middle School to support Mackenzie. “When my mom told me about a little girl who was going through this hard time, I wanted to come see her and yell really loud for her,” he said. “It helps when a lot of people pray for you, so I want to help her.”
A Facebook Fundraiser goal of $25,000 has been exceeded, with 516 people raising $26,557 in 55 days, as of August 17. The fundraiser is still going strong, with additional donations going towards Mackenzie’s medical trial travel expenses and additional medical expenses. Another fundraiser via GoFundMe has raised $2,210. On Sunday, October 21 a Pediatric Brain Cancer Benefit for Mackenzie Barron will be held at Walnut Creek Soccer Fields in Lancaster, SC between 1 and 4pm. The event will include a gift auction, 50/50, food, petting zoo, bounce house and more. The $5 per person entry fee and proceeds will benefit Mackenzie’s treatments.
Thomas and Lynn Barron have expressed their deepest gratitude for this outpouring of support so that they can spend as much time with Mackenzie during the time she has left.