FLINT, Michigan — McKenna Schummer was 12 years old and like many her age, she liked playing with her sister and spending time with her friends and family — her squad. She especially loved doing makeup and making others feel happy and beautiful. Then the unimaginable happened two years ago.
“The unimaginable news came that she has cancer and our entire world turned upside down,” McKenna’s mother Melissa Schummer said. “It was a blur. You go right through it, the hospital stays, surgeries, chemo, radiation ...”
Through it all, McKenna remained upbeat and intensely interested in beauty. Through it all, Schummer sat in awe, “watching this little girl find this amazing passion for make-up.”
“She shared her passion with everybody and how she wanted to know from the neighbors how their eyebrows were ‘on fleek’ all the time — so she mastered that,” McKenna’s mom says, remembering how her daughter’s curiosity for latest brands trends, styles and techniques became known throughout the hospital.
McKenna studied and shared her knowledge and skills with friends and anyone else that would come to see her. The sign outside her room offered a standing invitation: “Come get your makeup done by McKenna.”
The idea for McKenna’s Beauty Bar became a natural evolution of McKenna’s passion. “There’s not a lot of things for kids to do when they’re in treatment and they don’t feel very good. They think of their sickness. They think of all the doctors appointments and McKenna wanted to bring her smile to those other kids,” Schummer said.
A room was provided at the Detroit Medical Center and McKenna began designing the room and her logo. And, McKenna’s Squad Beauty Bar was born. Shortly after, McKenna got very sick.
“She was on a ventilator and she Facetimed me and just smiled and wrote little notes to me, she still had herself and I promised her then that we were going to keep her legacy alive,” Schummer recalls.
McKenna died in March 2018 after a 19-month battle with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
McKenna’s squad kept their promise and continued to expand the Beauty Bar idea to also include McKenna’s Beauty Bar Boxes — which are now being distributed at Hurley Hospital. The partnership between Schummer Family and Hurley Foundation — along with a special donation from Landaal Packaging in Flint — have created 250 of McKenna’s Beauty Bar Boxes, organizers announced during a press conference Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 at Hurley Hospital.
“We wanted an idea that would transcend the walls of the hospital and reach out to that outpatient network, because we know so many that are in our outpatient services,” said Hurley Foundation President Mike Burnett said. “We have to remember all of this happened because a young girl who was fighting cancer decided that she was going to put her focus on helping other kids.”
Hurley’s first McKenna’s Beauty Bar Box was given on Friday to one of McKenna’s friends and classmates: Lauren Stansburry, 12, was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer a year after her friend.
“I really like it, and I just know that McKenna is looking down with her smile and that feels good,” Lauren said.
Stansburry’s mom Kathy said, “McKenna told Lauren to look to the positives. McKenna helped others to feel beautiful and it was not uncommon to see her applying makeup on family and friends around the neighborhood. ... The McKenna Beauty Bar Box will help children find their beauty — their voice — as they fight the biggest battle of their life.”
Boxes are available for both for boys and girls. Each costs about $30 to assemble.
For more information, check out Facebook.com/mckennassquad
, or mckennassquadbeautybar.weebly.com
. McKenna’s Squad can be contacted at (810) 577-1095 or [email protected]