Avid skater enjoys rink with Disney
Six-year-old Mackenzie Riley shows off one of the gold medals she won at the Ice Skating Institute's Fall Classic in Hampton Roads, Va., in November.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Six-year-old Mackenzie Riley has only been ice skating for two years but has already earned three gold medals and skated with celebrities.

In November, Mackenzie took home first prize in three events at the Ice Skating Institute's Fall Classic in Hampton Roads, Va. Not long after that, she was invited to skate with Minnie Mouse when Disney on Ice came to the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.

"I like to ice skate because my great-grandma loved to do it," the first grader at St. Patrick's School explained. "It's really fun."

Her mom, Julie, said Mackenzie's great-grandma was an avid ice skater before she was incarcerated by Nazis during World War II.

"I think Mackenzie feels like it's something her great-grandma, my grandma, gave to her," Julie said. And, according to Julie, the only thing Mackenzie loves more than ice skating is her father, who is a captain with 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

Last year, he and his unit were deployed to Iraq for 15 months. Mackenzie missed her father and wanted to do something for him and his Soldiers. She came up with the idea of making many different flavored cookies and individually wrapping them for every Soldier in her father's battery. She and Julie loaded up on cookie batter and baked almost 3,000 cookies throughout her dad's deployment.

"He came home for (rest and relaxation), and then we had to say goodbye to him again so he could finish the rest of his deployment," Julie explained. "When we were in the car, Mackenzie began crying. I asked her what she was so upset about, and she said, 'How will the Easter Bunny find daddy's Soldiers' They won't get any baskets or presents.' So we headed to the store and got Easter eggs and candy for the Soldiers."

Julie decided Mackenzie's thoughtfulness deserved a special award, and the people with Disney on Ice agreed.

Mackenzie earned an invitation to skate with Minnie Mouse before the start of Disney on Ice when it came to Fayetteville in November.

When she saw Minnie Mouse enter the rink, Mackenzie screamed, "It's like we're at Disney World."
The young ice skater said she was very excited to have the opportunity to show off her skills to one of her favorite characters.

"I just feel like Mackenzie worked hard and did a lot for her father when he was gone. It was nice that (the Disney on Ice staff) let her meet and skate with Minnie Mouse," Julie said.

Mackenzie said winning the gold medals and meeting Minnie Mouse were highlights of her ice skating career, but she has other goals to pursue in the future.

"I want to keep skating when I get big, and I want to keep doing competitions," she added. "And I want my daddy to come and watch me."

Page last updated Fri January 29th, 2010 at 15:37