OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Niki Asher’s stepdaughter Mackenzie lived life to the fullest every day of her 11 years on this earth, and though she’s gone now, Niki is ensuring her legacy lives on.
“She always had a bright and sunny disposition and she always wanted to go and do things and have adventures,” Niki said.
When Mackenzie’s battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia took a turn for the worst, she made a bucket list.
“Play with piglets and go on a hot-air balloon ride and bake cupcakes in a bakery and all these different fun things,” said Niki. “We knew to cherish every moment with her and try to fulfill all the things she wanted to do and you know.”
Mackenzie fought cancer with all she had
“It was just a really hard journey for her and she was sick for a year and a half before she passed away,” Niki said. “Some days are OK and other days are really hard for my husband and I both.”
But on those hard days, Niki and Mackenzie’s father, Jason, look back on the special ones – the days they spent checking off Mackenzie’s bucket list
“After she passed away, we just kind of thought, ‘Why can’t we do this for other kids?'” said Jason.
So they started the Mack Impact, and in the last two years they’ve helped more than 50 other children and their families make special memories just like they have with Mackenzie.
“She reached out to us, days after Mackenzie had passed away and it just really speaks volumes to who Niki is,” said Neil Lloyd, whose son, Connor, was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after his third birthday.
Niki stayed in touch with the Lloyds throughout his two and a half year battle with the disease.
“It just told us that if they could keep fighting, we could keep fighting with our son and in treatment and things like that,” Lloyd said.
Once he was cancer-free, the Lloyds decided to throw Connor a party to celebrate, but Niki insisted that she take on the stress of party-planning so they could enjoy that special day.
“She could really just relate to families and was looking to lower that impact because she knew how hard it was for her family,” said Lloyd.
That’s why Jason Asher says his wife is the backbone of the Mack Impact.
“She has this fight in her that she wants to provide these families,” he said. “I think it’s kind of a testament to one way to handle these things. There’s no wrong way, but she’s done it, and her resolve, I think it’s a perfect description of her. She is a remarkable woman.”
Niki has been recognized as the winner of the 2021 Remarkable Women Contest for Oklahoma!
Thank you to all of those who made nominations and to our finalists!