Carmel Valley’s Mackenzie Bath, 15, rappelled 33 floors down the Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown on Aug. 18 for the fourth annual Over the Edge event for Kids Included Together (K.I.T.), a national nonprofit based in San Diego that promotes inclusion for kids with disabilities.
Mackenzie raised more than $1,100 for the organization with her rappel.
Going over the edge of the building is not something you can really prepare for.
“I’ve never done anything like that before and I kind of just went for it,” said Mackenzie, a Torrey Pines High School sophomore. “In the beginning, you’re on a ledge and they tell you to just lean back and that’s really scary. When you’re about halfway down it settles in that you’re doing it.”
Mackenzie’s family members got a room on the 18th floor of the hotel and were stationed in the window to wave as she went by.
“She got better after she saw us,” said mom Lynne. “Then we all ran out to meet her at the bottom.”
Mackenzie was featured in Over the Edge’s promotional literature for the event, as the issue of inclusion is one near and dear to her heart. Her older brother Kevin has special needs and she has seen how inclusion has helped change his life.
“My brother has been fortunate to be treated equally in most situations and that has made him the person that he is today: social, happy, funny and fun to be around,” Mackenzie wrote. “Being included has helped him to include everyone around him because he has felt the benefits of it.”
Mackenzie is a very active participant in the Best Buddies club, which she has been involved with since her days at Carmel Valley Middle School. The program pairs regular education students with students who have special needs to foster friendships and this year, as a sophomore, she will be president of the school’s club.
Her goals this year are to have one event outside of school every month, do some fund-raisers and become more involved in the countywide Best Buddies prom.
“I want to make really great matches between Best Buddies pairs and create friendships outside of just the club,” Mackenzie said. “I want to set up a strong Best Buddies club that will keep going after I’m gone.”
This summer she attended a national Best Buddies leadership conference called “Inclusion Revolution” at the University of Indiana and she is excited to bring what she learned to the club.
“I just learned how much Best Buddies can affect people and how much it can really do for people with disabilities,” Mackenzie said.
Kevin participated in Best Buddies while he attended Torrey Pines High and Mackenzie saw the benefits first hand.
“(Best Buddies) really gave him confidence to be himself around everyone and gave him really close friendships,” said Mackenzie. “A lot of kids with disabilities can feel closed off…Best Buddies really creates strong friendships. Kevin made so many good friends and when they came over to see him, his face just lit up.”