Carolinas HealthCare System

Author, Author!: McKenzie’s Story

10-Year-Old Turns a Health Scare into a Book that’s a Runaway Hit

mckenzie-ortho.jpgLast year, 10-year-old McKenzie contracted an infection that caused a series of health complications. She after a stay at Levine Children’s Hospital, she went home to continue her healing process.

During her recovery at home, McKenzie would sometimes get discouraged. During one down day, her mom gave her a small turkey craft to keep herself busy. “I then suggested, ‘Now, write a story about that li’l turkey – perhaps she can travel to NYC and join the Rockettes’,” says mom Amy, whose family enjoys traveling to New York to see the Rockettes at Christmastime. “I provided the prompt and McKenzie began writing, hence Runaway Turkeyette was born!”

As Amy and McKenzie began editing the book together, Amy began to realize the book had real legs. “During that developmental process, I realized we had created something special,” she says. “As an educator, I knew Runaway Turkeyette was exceptional quality. So I began my homework.” 

During the publication process, Amy had the idea to use the book as a way to thank the “exceptional caregivers who cared not only for McKenzie, but for our whole family.”

“It seemed only proper that the book be dedicated to the folks that cared for and healed our child,” Amy says. “Since Dr. David Rupar lead the team in diagnosing and treating McKenzie, we wanted to model a character after him. Dr. Kelly Vanderhave performed McKenzie’s surgeries, so the other character choice was a natural choice.” Amy sent pictures of the doctors with McKenzie, to family friend and professional illustrator Brent Vernon, who was able to capture their likenesses in the illustrations.

Amy adapted Runaway Turkeyette into a stage show that was performed in Wadesboro, NC. McKenzie has made a full recovery and is currently working on a chaptered sequel – Turkeyette’s Adventures in New York City. She aspires to be a veterinarian and to compete in national dog agility competitions, which she has been training for with her dog Lilly.