Edison High School has been raising funds and creating a lasting legacy in honor of one student in the wake of tragedy earlier this school year.
The sudden death of Mackenzie Smith, the 14-year-old daughter of Ross and Marsha Smith of Bloomingdale, spurred EHS and surrounding schools and organizations to collect money to not only help her family but also to establish a cheerleading scholarship as a tribute. Smith, who passed away on Aug. 11, would have been a freshman at the high school.
Bayleigh Gump, Mackenzie’s best friend and fellow cheerleader, said donations were being collected through the football game this Friday. So far, more than $1,900 has been raised between EHS and a contribution from Buckeye Local High School.
“I am going to soccer, volleyball and football games and walking around with a bucket asking for donations for the Smith family,” Gump said. “We also have a couple more ideas to work out.”
More plans are to create a cheerleading scholarship in Mackenzie’s honor with proceeds from the raffle slated for the Nov. 1 football game against Indian Creek. Athletic Director Joann Stagani said the EHS Boosters purchased a hog at the county fair’s livestock auction and tickets were being sold for $5 each with the drawing set for Friday’s game.
“Mackenzie was a cheerleader here at Edison and she was also very active in 4-H and livestock. The cheerleaders do not have many opportunities to obtain scholarships, including cheer-specific ones. The athletic boosters wanted to do something cheerleading-related and purchased an animal at the Jefferson County Fair Livestock Auction. We wanted it to be one of our athlete’s projects,” Stagani explained. “We were able to purchase Alaina Meadow’s pig. [Alaina] is not only in our athletic programs but a cheerleader as well. We had the pig processed and are raffling it off. Mackenzie would cheer here for these four years and all of the profits would be divided into four years of scholarship money and awarded to cheerleading scholarship applicants. We will be putting the details of the scholarship together at a later time. If it sells well, it may be possible to do two scholarships each year.”
Gump said the giving thus far has been incredible. In addition to Gump’s efforts, BLHS students Kaydence Kinyo, Carly Long and Emily Valuska raised $700 after meeting Mackenzie through the Jefferson County 4-H Club, while the 4-H also donated funds to help Smith’s family while the steer she raised was shown and sold during the county fair in August. A penny wars activity was also held among 4-H clubs at the Belmont County Fair with some of those proceeds being donated to the cause.
Mackenzie’s family has been touched by the tributes, with her mother noting the immense support they have received during their time of loss.
“We’ve been completely blessed with all the help, love and support. I’m so proud of the kids,” Marsha Smith has said. “We just want to thank everyone.
Meanwhile, Gump commented that it was one way to keep her memory alive.
“I feel really happy that Buckeye Local collected money for her family because many of the students didn’t know Mackenzie, but the ones in 4-H knew her and wanted to help out. I also feel happy about what the EHS Boosters are doing because I believe Mackenzie’s family needs help paying her medical bills and funeral expenses.”
Gump noted that Mackenzie was a special person who touched many people and there is always a reminder that she lives on in spirit. “When you would see her, she would bring joy and she would light up a room when she walked in. She would put bright colors in a room, and now every night she puts pink and purple in the sky. I just wanted to raise all of this money for Mackenzie because for the past 10 years she did anything and everything she could for me, so this is the least I could do for her family.”