TROY, Mich. – On the outside, McKenzie Strothers does the normal things a second-graders does. She loves to play with her puppy and big brother, Phineas.
But on the inside, the 7-year-old's heart doesn't work the same way.
McKenzie, who goes by the nickname Izzy, was born with complex congenital heart defects. By the time she was 2, she had already undergone three open heart surgeries.
"We were told two years ago that she has three to five years left," said McKenzie's mother, Melonie Strothers. "She doesn't grow. Her heart is larger, it beats faster. Her lungs aren't developed. So, everything is harder and she can't keep up."
Izzy takes 28 doses of medication a day, but she doesn't let it hold her back.
"If I had one wish, I'd wish that I was like all of my friends," she said. "I want them to know that I'm not little and I can do some things they can do."
But the family is facing a hard reality.
"Right now, her heart is in failure," Melonie Strothers said. "We've been told research hasn't come far enough for her. So, it was very important to me to get involved with funding research, and the heart walk is the way."
The family is participating in the annual Congenital Heart Walk, which is a national fundraising event benefitting the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) and The Children's Heart Foundation (CHF).
The 1.1 mile walk is Saturday, Sept. 26, at Boulan Park in Troy.
"It's just an amazing day and it's all about the heart community coming together," Melonie Strothers said.