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UM-Flint student continues to set an example for others after her death

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Kennedy Carter was determined to live her life to the fullest. The University of Michigan-Flint health care administration major in Mayville has faced many health challenges, but that has never stopped her from spreading joy to others.

Carter, 26, who died in March just weeks before graduating, was awarded a posthumous degree in honor of her dedication and tenacity. Carter’s mother, Stacy Windham, hopes others will follow her example.

Her family is currently collecting toys for Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit to donate for patients this Christmas in Kennedy’s name, a tradition she started as a teenager.

“She worked so hard through so much adversity,” Windham said. “It doesn’t matter what your situation is. You can always make lemonade. I don’t think most people would have any idea that Kennedy had health issues. It was intentional. She made a conscious choice to have an attitude positive and doing things for others.”

Carter was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure at age 13. She went back and forth to the hospital and underwent a kidney transplant. Her mother says she went through the experience with strength and positivity beyond her years.

She was comforted by the nurses and health care workers who cared for her and wanted to provide the same comfort to other sick children. She started collecting toys at Christmas every year for other patients. After high school, she was a cheerleader at Mott Community College and organized toy drives at basketball games.

Carter also aspired to work in healthcare and make a difference for others. She took EMT training and worked as a volunteer first responder in Mayville. Although her health did not allow her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, she earned an associate of science degree from Mott Community College and then transferred to UM-Flint for the online degree in health care administration. health.

Kennedy Carter was a cheerleader at Mott Community College and a volunteer paramedic.

“Kennedy was one of the standout students in my classes and proved her mastery of all the content we covered,” said Reza Amini, UM-Flint associate professor of public health and care administration program coordinator. health. “She was a bright and diligent student who demonstrated a sense of responsibility to her academic achievement and her peers.”

Carter’s father, Anthony Carter, is a huge football fan at the University of Michigan. Her parents were recently able to attend a UM football game in Ann Arbor with Amini and cheer in Kennedy’s memory.

“I know she was screaming,” Windham said. “I stood up and shouted loudly on his behalf.”

Windham says her daughter was working on a book about her experiences and hopes to complete it in her honor. She also hopes others will choose to live a life of purpose and joy, just as her daughter, whose middle name was Joy, was able to.

“I want people to overlook what’s not great in their own backyard and help someone with the flowers on their side of the fence,” Windham said. “Life is about finding joy. Kennedy took that seriously and she would want others to too. She was such a shining light.”

Those interested in participating in the Children’s Hospital of Michigan toy drive can email Windham at [email protected]

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