It's your senior year. There are trips to be taken, parties to be thrown and stages to be walked. Everyone makes their senior year something special; something to be done that will compare to no one else. Simply put, this is your senior year.
McKenna Wilson, 22 from Elk City, Oklahoma and second baseman for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University softball team, spearheaded the recent idea to include a ceremonial cancer awareness fundraiser with the annual Pack the Park for the softball team.
Pack the Park was in remembrance of Meagan Lack's mother who had recently passed away, Cynthia Lack. Meagan was a pitcher and teammate of Wilson. The softball team sold T-shirts to raise money and awareness of uterine cancer. They raised nearly $1900.
Meagan Lack knew about the event although it was a surprise for her father, sister and aunt. Donald, Lindsey and Brenda Lack (respectively) had planned in advance to see Meagan play that day unknowing of the ceremony to recognize the determination to keep a family afloat during such troubled times. The family would be notified on-field during the pre-game ceremony and would have the opportunity to choose which cancer research program to donate the money raised by the selling of the purple shirts.
Unfortunately due to weather the event was canceled. The Lack's would still be surprised at Champs, a restaurant in the small town of Alva, Okla., as they hosted a dinner to replace the rained out games.
“The softball team still came out to Champs and had a team dinner in honor when the games got canceled,” said Meagan Lack.
“My dad cried, my aunt cried. It was very emotional.”
But like family who found faith and support from strangers hundreds of miles from their home in Louisiana, Wilson was determined to reschedule the Pack The Park.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to do something for her is to let her and her family know that we were all thinking of them. I never actually met her mom but I could tell through Lack that she was a great lady,” said Wilson.
“Stuff like that is so hard. You don't just forget about it the next day.”
What gave Wilson the desire to do such great things for others? It could have been because it was her senior year, and she could feel a small amount of tension within the dugout
“I'm more of a silent leader. I'm not the person that would yell at someone. I don't want to make myself seem superior to others. I try to lead by example."
She also was a leader in high school.
“I was the class reporter, so anything our class did me and three other people were in charge of it. We were in charge of prom, and we had to decorate and run everything. I was one of the leads in our high school senior play. I was in the pep club, and I always went and sat in the front row at games.”
Or could it have been something deeper. Wilson was diagnosed with a benign tumor that was attached to her thyroid at the young age of 19.
“My parents called me the day they got the results back and woke me up. 'Sorry McKenna, we didn't mean to wake you. We'll call back.' was what they said. About three minutes later there was a knock on my dorm room door. When I answered, it was my parents standing there. I knew I was supposed to get the results, so we all instantly started crying.”
Having a life-threatening illness is life changing.
“At the time I wasn't living the life that I should have been, so having found this tumor was eye-opening to say the least.”
Her strength and courage showed strong during this time. A week after the results she had surgery. Half her thyroid was removed and she must now take pills daily to counteract the affects of the missing part of her gland.
“I was going to go into this thing with a good attitude. That to me shows me how we should care about people.”
So when the opportunity presented itself to give back, Wilson, like any infielder awaiting a ground ball hit her way, was eager to do her duty.
“Even though it didn't happen with my family, I couldn't let this go. Not a lot of people could cope with it. This is all a part of a plan."
“When I had my battle, I was getting letters from people all across the state, some of whom I didn't even know. This showed me how much love and compassion one can show to a stranger."
“The way I've been raised has always been to try and help other people. People need to know that other people care about them.”
Wilson showed her ability to care with astounding success. There was not an open seat at the rescheduled Pack the Park April 7. It was simply a sea of purple passion spreading awareness and support to a family unknown by most on the campus.
And that is how McKenna Wilson spent her senior year.