Three years ago, Elizabethtown native Kennedy Stephenson was looking for a second chance. At only three-years-old, Kennedy needed a liver transplant after being diagnosed with S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase deficiency, also known as AdoHcy.
Her extremely rare metabolic disease had neurological effects as well as affected her ability to process proteins. Her mother, Donya McCoy, posted a message on Facebook. “Is there anyone out there who has O+ blood and would be willing to donate 25% of their liver to save Kennedy’s life,” she asked her friends. “Trust me, I know its a lot to ask, I can’t even believe I’m posting this, but as a mother, I have to exhaust every option possible.”
Luckily for her and her daughter, one of her high school classmates came to the rescue. Kennedy was able to receive a new liver at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in November of 2014.
During her recovery, her love of the game of hockey began to grow and motivated her while getting better. “It’s been something that’s driven her to get out of bed,” said Donya at Sunday night’s Bears game. “In the Children’s Hospital, there was a little area on the floor below and she could go down there and play a little hockey with a puck and a net. And that was something that really motivated her to get out of bed after the transplant.”
Now a six-year-old, Kennedy is a big Bears supporter, and the team wanted to give her the experience of a lifetime to celebrate her three-year milestone.
Kennedy and her family were invited to the game and got to watch from the Bears team suite at the north end of Giant Center. But before the game got underway, the extremely vocal hockey fan along with the rest of her family visited the Bears bench to watch warm-ups.
“How’s it going,” Bears forward Riley Barber said as he greeted Kennedy with a fist bump.
Kennedy’s response? “Hit somebody!”
A smile and laugh from Barber with a promise of trying his best left a girl who three years ago received her second chance from her mother’s plea online, with a smile of her own.