On Memorial Day weekend, a seven-year-old girl went above and beyond to honor her father and six of his fellow marines, who were killed in a helicopter training crash in Florida six years ago. The little girl, participated in a five-mile run and had the idea to extend the run an extra two miles, one for each marine.
"She sleeps with her “daddy doll” every night, we had one made after the accident," said Jenna Kemp-Klarner.
"I can’t sleep without it," said Mackenzie Kemp.
Mackenzie was just 12 days shy of her first birthday when her father, Sgt. Kerry Michael, died in a black hawk helicopter crash during a training mission in 2015 in Santa Rosa, Florida. He was one of seven marines and four army national guard soldiers who died.
"They were doing some night training and there were two helicopters. He was in the first helicopter and unfortunately the weather deteriorated overtime [and] as they crossed over the Santa Rosa Sound, the pilots just lost control," said Jenna.
Jenna was also pregnant with their son, Wesley, at the time of the crash.
"Every Memorial Day, we try to do something a little extra special for him. He loved to golf, so we usually go out and play some golf," said Jenna.
"Yeah, I love golfing too," said Mackenzie.
On Memorial Day weekend, Jenna and Mackenzie took part in the Marine Raider Foundation’s five-mile run in North Carolina. But five miles, wasn’t enough for Mackenzie.
"She jumped up and she was like, let’s do seven! One for each of the guys. I was like seriously? That’s a lot of miles," said Jenna.
"I'm a really good runner," said Mackenzie.
Mackenzie didn’t do it alone. The family split up the miles, running four Sunday and three on Monday.
"On the last one I sprinted," said Mackenzie.
"If seven wasn’t enough, she sprinted the last half mile of the seventh mile," said Jenna.
Jenna says it’s important to her to make their father a part of their lives as much as they can.
"I want them to know who he is and i want them to know I tried my best to keep him our family," said Jenna.
Mackenzie is the youngest participant in the Marine Raider Foundation’s “Our 5 for a Hero Challenge”. Right now, Mackenzie is in first place and has raised over $4,000.