Mackenzie Roach and Makenzie Yovanovich have become the ultimate duo when it comes to showing the world their abilities despite their disabilities. The best friends have represented Akron Children’s Hospital in a multitude of ways, and most recently, represented the disability community as participants in the Miss Amazing pageant.
The Miss Amazing pageant is dedicated to raising self confidence in girls and young women with disabilities. Both girls won Ohio titles this year in their respective age groups and moved on to the national pageant in Chicago in early August.
Mackenzie, age 15, Ohio Miss Amazing Jr. Teen Queen, came back from Chicago with the gold medal of volunteerism, earned by those who have volunteered 250+ hours this year. Beyond her award, she also came home with a new network of friends.
Both Mackenzie and Makenzie exchanged phone numbers and social media handles with their fellow participants but it never felt like the girls were competing against each other.
“She loved being in such a positive and supportive environment where the girls and women were all encouraging and lifting each other up,” said Shawna Roach, Mackenzie’s mother.
Makenzie, age 11, Ohio Miss Amazing Preteen Queen, used her position to shed light on an area near and dear to her heart: the need for inclusive playgrounds and parks.
The girls have overcome medical struggles, but you would never know with how bright their smiles are.
After the discovery of a benign brain tumor at age 8, Mackenzie went in for its removal and took an unplanned side-journey to recovery. Complications from her surgery resulted in her needing to relearn everything, including holding her head up, eating, and walking.
Her best friend, Makenzie, began her story at Akron Children’s with the diagnosis of a rare form of congenital muscular dystrophy called Bethlem myopathy. By age 6, Makenzie had lost her ability to walk but that did not stop her passion for dance.
Mackenzie and Makenzie share a love for the art of dance and both participate in Dance Unlimited. Based in the hospital’s Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center, the dance program replaces typical physical therapy sessions to benefit kids dealing with a variety of diagnoses, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy (CP), autism, spina bifida, paralysis, and pulmonary problems.
The girls shine on stage when they participate in different dance styles. They took those talents with them to Chicago where both used their dance skills for the talent portion of the pageant.
Being brought together by their love for dance has led to a beautiful friendship. The girls are best friends and have experienced many firsts together, including sleepovers, manicures and, now, traveling to Chicago.
The girls are commonly seen at the hospital. Most recently, Mackenzie came to the hospital to visit for National Disability Independence Day. The day marked the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 29 years ago. In recognition of the day, Mackenzie and her family visited the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center to speak about overcoming her disabilities.
Mackenzie let everyone know that she does not let her disability hold her back and has volunteered over 270 hours this year alone and participated in over 250 fundraisers since her brain tumor removal 8 years ago.
Mackenzie and Makenzie come to Akron Children’s Hospital sometimes as patients, sometimes as advocates, sometimes as volunteers, but always with smiles on their faces. With their ambition and teamwork, it is always a joy seeing what they do next.