By Chelsie Prince – We all know strong women. One strong woman in my life is my cousin, Mackenzie Schmidt. In April 2007, she found out that she was going to deliver a still born baby. Our family was so excited to bring a new baby into our already very large family, another wonderful little soul to carry on what so many of us had been carrying for years. But instead of joy, we were left with pain and unanswered questions for one of our own. She is our cousin, niece, daughter, granddaughter, sister, wife, mom and not a single one of us was able to help her.

Mackenzie went to the hospital when she didn’t feel her baby move. She knew something was wrong. Once she was hooked up to the ultrasound machine they found that her baby no longer had a heartbeat. Mackenzie delivered by C-section, and as she recovered she made some of the hardest decisions of her life. Dakota was still born on April 17, 2007, just 3 days before his due date. Mackenzie and her husband Dak, planned a funeral and buried their son ten days later on what was her 28th birthday.

Dakota Family picShe stayed strong. She was like a character from an inspiring movie that made you want to be a stronger woman. She was stricken with grief, but her actions were that of a warrior. I remember what she said to me as if it were yesterday, “God gave us this for some reason and we will be okay.”

She spent time wondering how she would move forward, and just two days following Dakota’s funeral, on April 29, Mackenzie’s husband pushed her in a wheel chair and together, with the support of family and friends, they walked for the March of Dimes in Newport Beach, CA, taking their first steps towards healing.

March of Dimes is a non-profit organization that works to help improve the health of babies and their mothers. Each year millions of people come together to walk in the organization’s national fundraising effort, March for Babies. This charitable event raises money for research and awareness programs that help babies begin healthy lives. To date, the March of Babies event has raised over $2 billion since the walk started in 1970.

Over the past 7 years, Mackenzie and Team Dakota have raised over $50,000, making them one of the top family fundraising teams in Orange County, CA. This year, Team Dakota will be walking March for Babies on April 27 in Newport Beach, CA.

Team Dakota 1“I do this for those that can’t. Dakota was not able to, so I do it for him and for all of the others who aren’t here. I do it for the babies and for the families who need our help,” Mackenzie said about her commitment to March for Babies.

Watching Mackenzie and her husband go through the pain of losing a child is indescribable, but watching her efforts for March of Dimes has given her family and friends a way to support her and a very important cause.

Dakota’s death has given life to so many others, providing a chance for new babies that he never had. His spirit lives on through the hundreds of people who walk with his name on their backs. He is a giver, and still very much a part of this world.

Mackenzie Schmidt is a woman with passion and drive and definitely exemplifies a Woman You Should Know. She didn’t let pain consume her; instead she turned it into determination to help others. Today, although she has two beautiful and healthy children that she loves with all of her heart, she still longs for her middle child, Dakota.

“I am helping him leave his footprint because his foot never got to touch the ground.”

 About The Contributor

chelsie_princeChelsie Prince is the founder of Proud and Pretty in Pink, a company that works to educate girls and women on body image, self-esteem and sexual health.

She has worked with girls ages 8-21 for over 7 years, and has dedicated her life to empowering, educating and encouraging them to really understand and love themselves.

The 100 Most Beautiful Women in the World: The NEW List Project is her most recent attempt to change the way girls look at beauty.