Seven weeks before her identical twin girls were due to be born, Kristen Collett-Schmitt went to her doctor for a routine check-up that turned out to be anything but. One of the babies, Mackenzie, had no heartbeat. Collett-Schmitt was whisked away to the hospital where the medical staff delivered the babies immediately. The surviving twin, Harper, was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). All she could wear at first, because of all the wires and tubes she was attached to, were a hat and a diaper. She was so tiny that the diaper wrapped around her twice.
Harper is a healthy, happy 4-year-old now, the spitting image of her mother, an associate professional specialist in finance. Remembering how she was unprepared the day Harper could finally wear clothes, Collett-Schmitt now collects new and used preemie clothes (with snap fronts to accommodate wires) for donation to Memorial Hospital’s NICU. She and her husband, David have also created the Mackenzie Taylor Schmitt Memorial Fund at Memorial Hospital South Bend, Ind., to purchase necessities for premature babies. Since 2011, Collett-Schmitt, originally from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, has been joined by her extended family and friends for the annual March of Dimes March for Babies in Cincinnati. Each year, Team Heaven and Earth raises between $2,000 and $4,000 in honor of Mackenzie.
Editor's Note: The Schmitt family chose the name Team Heaven and Earth because their participation in the March of Dimes March for Babies both honors Mackenzie and celebrates Harper's recovery from prematurity. Collett-Schmitt is pictured above holding the team's t-shirt, designed by her husband, David Schmitt.