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McKenzie Coan          

Paralympic Swimmer on Team USA; Paralympic Gold Medalist; Author & Motivational Speaker

McKenzie Coan was diagnosed at just 19 days old with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bone disease. This condition causes her bones to break easily, and as a result of this diagnosis, doctors said that Coan would never walk, never sit upright, never talk, and maybe not even live a very long life. However, Coan's parents were determined to not have their daughter live a life dictated by other people’s expectations.

Coan's journey in the water started with aqua therapy at four years old, and right away she discovered a sense of freedom that she had never felt before. Her two brothers joined the swim team around the same time, and she quickly found herself intrigued to graduate aqua therapy in the baby pool and venture into the big kid lap lanes. Coan swam for the very first time on her own in order to qualify for swim team, and has never looked back since. She loved (and still does) the feeling of proving others wrong when she rolls up behind the blocks in her wheelchair.

When Coan was 8, she discovered the Paralympic Games and started her Paralympic swimming career. For the first time, she found herself competing with others who had similar abilities. By the time she was 11, she qualified for Paralympic Trials as the youngest competitor at the meet. After just missing making the US Paralympic Team for the 2008 Beijing Games, Coan vowed to spend the next four years leading up to the next Paralympics giving everything she had to qualify.

Fast forward four years to 2012, at her first Paralympic Games, she made it to the finals, leaving with a 6th place finish. Already looking ahead to the next Games, she vowed yet again to spend the next four years preparing to not only re-qualify but to make it to the podium for Team USA. In 2016, Coan qualified for five events for the Rio Games. During the competition, she won 3 golds and a silver. Coan's journey captures the very meaning of believing that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Through every broken bone, every setback, every obstacle, Coan never lost hope.

Coan launched Kenzie Kares in 2011, an organization dedicated to providing kids undergoing treatments or procedures for life-threatening conditions in hospitals across the US with a reason to smile during their stay. Through Kenzie Kares, McKenzie personally visits and spends time with kids and their families at various hospital centers. Kenzie Kares also provides donations of toys, art & crafts, and games directly to the families and/or the pediatric wing of the hospital in general.

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