"Mackenzie as Baby Simba ... they lift her up...it's a symbol of how brave she is..."
It's her shining moment -- this 3 year old rising star in life is playing the role of Baby Simba on stage... It's a production that benefits her cause.
Mackenzie West of National Park, NJ has already had 3 open heart surgeries. The first -- when she was just 10 days old. Then 6 months -- and again last summer.
West suffers from a rare heart defect – called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means she was born with only half of a working heart. Mackenzie's sisters' dance studio -- Royal Dance Academy -- is hosting a fundraiser for west and her family in the form of a dance production of the lion king. Tonight was the dress rehearsal.
"We knew the lion would be the perfect symbol for her -- she's been through so much ever since she was born. We wanted to show her how much we believe in her and what a strength she's been since she was very very young," says Theresa Pitroswski of Royal Dance Academy.
West's sisters -- Kylie and Savannah are by her side...on stage and off -- her wings of support...
She's a real trooper...with a bright grin and a lot of energy...
"God, she's a leader -- I see it already with her amazing spirit and everything she has..." says Mackenzie's father Robert West.
Mackenzie's battle with congenital heart disease is lifelong -- she may need a heart transplant down the line -- medical bills are mounting.
The community is coming through in a big way. 100 percent of the proceeds from tomorrow's show will help the family with expenses -- which they say they're grateful for.
If you cannot attend the show, but would still like to donate you can head to any T.D. Bank Branch and contribute to the "Benefit for Mackenzie West" fund.