Mackenzie G.

Undergraduate Recipient

"Describe an achievement or rewarding experience that you are most proud of accomplishing while living with CF, and how it has molded the person you have become."

Running competitively is a feat braved by few, and even fewer who have a lung disease. When I first made the seemingly unorthodox decision to run both cross country and track, my doctors were hesitant about me competing because of their justifiable concerns for my health; however, it is now evident that running helps me to take better control of my disease and set new standards for those living with Cystic Fibrosis.

I had run nearly five hundred miles during the summer of 2012 in preparation for the upcoming cross country season and was eager to compete. However, an unexpected hospitalization significantly diminished my cross country season. Initially, I was frustrated, but then I embraced the adversity and took a pivotal step towards conquering my Cystic Fibrosis by running on a treadmill in the hospital despite having a PICC line.

Unfortunately, I was unable to compete in cross country meets for three weeks because of a strict infusion schedule of I.V. antibiotics, only leaving me with three weeks to recondition my lungs before the district meet. During those weeks, my desire and determination to help my team compensated for my ailing lungs and allowed me to run my personal best time and helped the team qualify for the regional meet.

These life-changing events taught me that truly anything can be accomplished with faith, determination, and support. This helped me to realize "the only disability in life is a bad attitude." (Scott Hamilton)


Mackenzie G.'s Artwork


"The Dawn of a Runner" Despite all odds, I am a runner. This piece is a representation of the power running gives me. I chose to portray the strong spirit of the runner and sought to capture the passion that is truly running for my life. The sunrise symbolizes the breaking of a new day, and the need to seize each day by running in the direction of your dreams. Using Photoshop and the style of Surrealism, I brought to life my drive to run and my determination to win my ongoing battle with Cystic Fibrosis.

Mackenzie G.'s Achievements

  • Varsity Cross Country: 4 year letter winner (2010 – 2013), 2-time honorable mention all-conference (2011 & 2013), 400 mile club (2011 – 2013), Leadership Award (2013), Regional meet qualifier (2012)
  • Fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Annual pancake sausage breakfast (2010 – Present), annual bake sale (2004 –Present),
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D), Class Representative (2010 – 2014)
  • Class Vice President (2010 – 2014)
  • National Honor Society, Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army and Raven's Care (2011 – 2013), volunteered for The House of Ruth (for victims of abuse) (2011 – 2013), Volunteered at Defiance Public Library (2013), Volunteered at Highland Township Fire Department Fundraiser (2014)
  • Varsity Track, 4 year letter winner (2011 – 2014)
  • Westpoint Leadership Award (2013)
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), Good Citizen Award (2013)
  • Class Valedictorian with a weighted GPA of 4.084 (2014)
  • National Federation of State High School Associations Spirit of Sport Award for Section 2 (Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland) (2014)