Why This Little Girl Known as "Big Mak" Runs for Riley

November 4, 2014
Topics: Donors

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Makenzie Kolvoord

Seven-year-old Makenzie Kolvoord, known to her friends as "Big Mak," is an avid long-distance runner involved in several local and regional races to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children. Her long-term goal is to win a gold medal in the Olympics.

Mak finished the Fort 4 Fitness half marathon in a staggering 1:45:11, and she holds the world record in the 10K. We asked Mak and her mother Elaine some questions to help understand her intense passion for running, and for Riley kids!

Q: Elaine, how would you describe your daughter’s personality? 

Elaine: Mak is like the Energizer Bunny on a pogo stick, with a basket full sunshine she sprinkles everywhere she goes! She is very loving, giving and is always ready with a smile and a kind word for everyone.

Q: What has inspired her interest in helping Riley kids?

Elaine: Mak has always been inspired to help others. When she was 5, for example, instead of having a party and getting gifts, she bought pillow pets for all the homeless kids at the Charis House and brought them a cake that said, "God Loves You!"

Last year, she saw a little girl in a wheelchair at one of her races. It made her realize that there were children out there that weren't physically able to do the things she could do. She wanted to do something special to help them. That's where Big Mak Runs For Riley came about. Mak is running all 15 of the Fort Wayne Track Club points races for the kids at Riley. She has two races left. If she completes them, she earns the Ironman Award, and all the children who have been at Riley this year will receive an Ironman medal, inscribed just for them.

Q: How does Mak inspire you?    

Elaine: Mak inspires all of us with her loving, giving nature. She finds the good in every situation, and doesn't focus on the negative. Sometimes she'll go without just so someone else doesn't have to. She is a true disciple of Christ. Our family doesn't have a lot of money, a big house, or fancy cars. What we do have is love, and love can change the world!

Q: Now a few questions for Makenzie – first, why did you decided to support Riley kids with your running events?

Mak: I wanted to help the kids at Riley because I knew they were really sick and I wanted to take their minds off of being sick for a while. It makes me sad to know that they can't always run and play. It makes me happy to give back to them because they inspire me to always do my best, especially when it gets hard. God gave me the ability to run and I have to do all I can to glorify Him and help make the world a better place. 

Q: You recently participated in the Run for Riley in Fort Wayne. How did it go for you, and what was that like?

Mak: The Run for Riley was fun. I liked meeting all the Riley kids. I brought some of my medals to give the kids and it made my heart smile to see their smiles when I gave them one. My sister, Jamie, got first place and I got second. We gave our medals to the family of Gabby Jones, who was there running in her memory. (Gabby was a Riley kid who died, and now she's in heaven.) The weather was great for the run because Gabby was sending down rays of sunshine.

Q: What helps you stay strong and motivated during tough racing events?

Mak: Thinking of the kids at Riley that are stuck in hospital beds and can't run. I pray for them before and after my races so I can do my best for them. I also pray for strength. They are brave and strong and I want to be strong for them.

Q: What advice do you have for other kids who are interested in helping Riley Hospital?

Mak: We may be little, but together we can make a difference! Go to my Facebook Page: Big Mak Runs For Riley and help me change the world!

To make a gift to Riley in honor of Big Mak's running efforts, click here to donate online on her fundraising page. 

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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