The News (New Glasgow)
Lily MacDonald and cousin Makayla are MS Walk and Roll ambassadors
LINACY - Eleven-yearold Lily MacDonald is a chip off the fundraising block. Following a communityservice path well groomed by her grandfather Bernie McKeough, Lily has raised more than $13,000 for Muscular Dystrophy during the past eight years.
“My dad, he had muscular dystrophy - spinal muscular atrophy type 2 - so he was a full quadriplegic,” said Lily’s mom Bernadette MacDonald.
“He used an electric wheelchair, and my mom took care of him, we took care of him, but he worked right up until he couldn't. He worked for the Lands and Forests and then he was a taxi dispatcher. When he couldn't lift his arms anymore to answer the phone, he had to stop working but it didn't stop him. He volunteered for every organization you could imagine.”
Bernadette said she and the rest of the family would be his “arms and legs” while her father was involved in the community, helping where he could.
“That put us into the community, meeting people,” she said. “So, I think, that's probably where this (fundraising, supporting) kind of comes from. He stopped working but once he did, he just volunteered and did so until he passed away in 2015.”
Bernie was 69 when he passed away.
Lily’s contributions have not gone unnoticed as she was recognized with the 2022 Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Provincial Champion Award for Nova Scotia and this year, along with little cousin Makayla, who is three, is the Pictou County Walk and Roll Ambassador.
The Walk and Roll takes place June 17, starting at 11 a.m. at the Scotsburn Fire Department (4179 Scotsburn Rd.).
“Lily and her papa had a very special bond. She loved to go for rides on his wheelchair and help him whenever he needed it. She understood from a young age the importance of helping others,” a passage on the event’s website (muscle.akaraisin.com/ ui/walkrollmdc23/g/38476) notes.
“I like knowing that every time I fundraise that I'm helping somebody with that,” Lily said about participating. “We do bake sales and last year we made wooden flower crafts, and we painted them. I sold some of them at my school and others we sold through online posts. Then we do social media posts and thank you videos for people who donate.”
Bernadette noted the help from Lily’s aunt and her sisterin-law Dawn MacDonald.
“She helps Lily raise funds for her campaign each year with an event at her place of work,” she said. “We have a very supportive network and are so thankful for them all and the fact we are able to do something to help others in memory of Dad/papa.”
This year, Lily and Makayla will be doing a lot of their fundraising by selling glasses of lemonade and, thanks to her dad Steve - with Lily painting - they have the perfect stand to draw people in.
Asked if the light pink, blue and white colour scheme represent some of her favourite colours, Lily gave an enthusiastic “yes.”
Bernadette said they have reached out to the municipalities about where they could set the stand up over the next couple of weeks leading into the event but, for now, she just encourages folks to be on the lookout for it and know their purchase of a refreshing lemonade will be going to a great cause.
“The organization supported him even from when we were young and when he wasn’t able to work,” she said about wanting to give back.
“He required the use of an electric wheelchair, which is thousands and thousands of dollars.
“There is just no way he would have been able to even continue working without the support Muscular Dystrophy gave to him. So, this is our way of giving back because we know he wouldn’t have been able to be so present and independent if it wasn’t for them. They were there for him my whole life really.”
She talked more about the stand and how it will be Lily’s and Makayla’s fundraising tool going forward.
“(Building it with her dad) was a great project and this will be her fundraiser next year too,” Bernadette said. “Now that she’s old enough to kind of stand on her own and do that, it’ll probably be the main source of fundraising, so we’ll be setting up more spots next year.”
With her little cousin as her helper.
“Oh yes, for sure,” Bernadette said. “We wanted something they could both do together. Big crafts, like we did last year, it would be hard for Mikayla to be involved. But something like this, it’s easier … it’s something she can feel part of.”
The family is also looking forward to getting back to the walk again as this will be the first one in-person since COVID which forced the event to be run virtually the past few years.
“My mom, my brother and his wife, my extended family, my in-laws, we all participate in the walk every year,” she said.
If you don’t get to buy a glass of lemonade from Lily and Makayla in the next couple of weeks, you can still support them and Muscular Dystrophy by going to muscle.akaraisin.com/ui/ WalkRollMDC23/t/WalkandRollforPapa.