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Indianapolis native writes children’s book to help people cope with illness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis native found inspiration in tragedy to help children cope with childhood illness. Brandy James wrote a children’s book called “Makenna the Mighty.”

The book has been 10 years in the making after James’ daughter, Makenna Clark, passed away of a rare disease when she was 4 years old. She would have turned 14 on March 22. Now, James is celebrating her daughter’s birthday by sharing her story in a way she hopes helps other kids.

Makenna the Mighty (Provided Photo/Brandy James)

“Makenna Mighty knew her mommy was right. She knew that her mighty body could no longer fight.”

The words flow from this mother’s heart as a tribute to her daughter, Makenna the mighty.

“It is about hope and strength from a 4-year-old,” James said. “She went through so much but I think we can all take from that is, days will be hard, but remember to smile. She was just this kid that smiled all of the time.”

Makenna’s smile is now captured perfectly in a picture book and paired with her difficult journey for a greater purpose.

“It is important that people know someone is out there,” James said. “We get it. We understand what is going on and we are here for you.”

The book is a way to help children understand illnesses, for parents to start a conversation with their kids or to find comfort that they’re not alone.

“The goal is, one, to help families, and two, to kind of explain what childhood illness looks like,” James said.

Makenna suffered from Megalencephaly-capillary malformation syndrome, a complex disorder that involves many organs. She was only one of 300 people in the world when she was finally diagnosed with the disease.

“I just kept doing research and found a group online,” James said. “There was a little girl that looked like my little girl.”

It seemed like fate. Then it was time to fight. The book shows Makenna’s birth in Kansas, then many surgeries closer to their family at Riley Hospital for Children and in Dayton, Ohio.

Just as important, the book displays drawings of Makenna smiling, playing, even eating ice cream. It shows the love of a family and a picture of diversity James said they didn’t see enough of in children’s books.

“There weren’t many that even depicted an African American child with a rare syndrome. So for me, this is something I want to continue to do, is tell her story in different capacities about going to school and using a wheelchair, where I want her to be the star of the book so other children that look like us and look like her can see themselves in this book,” James said.

A way to carry on Makenna’s mighty legacy, long after her final farewell.

Makenna the Mighty (Provided Photo/Brandy James)

Brandy says she started writing the book right after Makenna passed and doesn’t plan to stop telling her story. “Makenna the Mighty” can be purchased here.