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With each shot, this girl has a chance to help others

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/12/2017 Len Hayward
Mckenzie Hahn dribbles down ball down court during practice on Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017, at Orange Grove High School in Orange Grove. Hahn is raising money for Alzheimer's with each point she scores. Her grandmother suffered from the disease. © Gabe Hernandez/Caller-Times) Mckenzie Hahn dribbles down ball down court during practice on Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017, at Orange Grove High School in Orange Grove. Hahn is raising money for Alzheimer's with each point she scores. Her grandmother suffered from the disease.

ORANGE GROVE, Texas — As the 3-pointers were falling at Kingsville High School on Feb. 13, McKenzie Hahn was thanking someone special.

Hahn sank nine 3-pointers in Orange Grove’s 68-39 bi-district victory against Rio Hondo, totaling 33 points. Prior to her junior basketball season (2015-16), Hahn embarked on a campaign to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease, with each point she scores for the Bulldogs through the Alzheimer’s Associations’ Hoops For a Cure program.

The cause is close to Hahn’s heart because her maternal grandmother, Leola Adams, was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago. The fundraiser was a way for her to help and find a cure for what she describes as a “horrible disease.”

On that night in Kingsville, those 33 points added to a tally that is reaching nearly $5,000 over two seasons. And as the points piled up, she thought of her grandma.

“I was like, ‘Thank you grandma for helping me tonight,’” Hahn said with a smile. “It was unreal. I know that if I score more points, I help out my team. I’m also helping out the Alzheimer’s program.”

Thanks to a win on Monday against Crystal City in a Region IV-4A quarterfinal, Hahn will have at least one more chance to add to that total. The Bulldogs will take on Wharton in the Region IV-4A Tournament in Kingsville.

Hahn currently leads the Bulldogs in scoring this season at 14.4 points a game and is averaging 21.3 points a game in three playoff games. Hahn is one of two players averaging in double figures along with McKenzie Ortiz (14 points a game).

“I think she’s been on a mission this last part of district and these playoff games,” said coach Jeff Huber, in his 27th year coaching the Bulldogs. “She has really stepped it up a notch and she was determined to lead this team to the regional tournament.”

Hahn said she would ride her bicycle to her grandmother’s house as a girl, which was “just down the road from me.”

Hahn, now a senior who plans to attend Texas A&M to study engineering, had a hard time when she was younger understanding what her grandmother, who is now 86, was going through.

As Hahn grew up, she did more research on the disease that affects more than 5 million people in the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association stated on its website.

When she was 12, her parents talked to her about what Adams was going through.

“I kind of understood but not really,” Hahn said. “It was hard, especially when I was younger and didn’t really understand. I would say, ‘Why doesn’t grandma remember me?’ I thought I had done something wrong when I was little. But now I get it, I’ve grown and I understand what it is.”

Hahn stated on her Facebook page called “Hoops For A Cure” that she has scored more than 500 points to date this season.

Fans can donate directly through pledges, and also purchase T-shirts for $15 and bracelets for $3.

The points are not as important to Hahn as it is raising awareness for the disease. Plus, she added being part of the program has helped motivate her each time she hits the basketball court, knowing that the more points she can score helps the team and the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Huber said he has not seen a change in how Hahn plays since she began raising money, and said that what she is doing is “just another indication of what a great kid she is.”

“You just have such an appreciation and I feel blessed,” Huber said. “She’s taught me more than I taught her. She may not lead by being vocal but leads by demonstrating in what she does and the kids follow that.”

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