The Mito Warriors of Ken-Ton: The Girl Scout Difference

In Girl Scouting, our mission doesn’t end at building girls of courage, confidence, and character. We empower them to take it one step further and help make their world a better place. For Troop 30143, the difference they want to make is related directly to one of their co-leaders.


Ken-Ton troop leader Ann Marie Lesnewski, center left, celebrates with her Junior Girl Scouts Sunday after a ride to raise awareness for mitochondrial disease. Pictured around Lesnewski clockwise from bottom are Charlotte Brach, Lucy Dettbarn, Lily Foglia, Sierra Green, Jessie Harper, Grace Miller, Ella Jones and Maxine Ensminger.
Image via Ken-Ton Bee

In working towards a Bronze Award, the troop chose to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease. While many have never heard of this rare disease, they have a direct connection to it through one of their co-leaders.

Ann Marie Lesnewski, called ‘Miss Annie’ by her girls,  has a lifelong history with Girl Scouts, from her days as a Girl Scout at Kenmore Presbyterian Church to leading troops in the Ken-Ton Service Unit for seven years.

Earlier this year, she explained her passion for Girl Scouting to the Ken-Ton Bee:

“I wasn’t really there for what I received to put on my uniform, but for how it made me feel. It was a place that I could go to feel that I belonged, that my thoughts mattered, and where I’d be told that my dreams were attainable. I want girls to feel confident, and I want them to know that they’re valued, that their opinions matter, and that I believe that they can change the world for the better. I think girls don’t really get that message all the time in life. Kids are told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and they’re not really given the opportunity to think. That’s what Girl Scouting really offers them is the opportunity to think, and to dream big.”

Troop 30143 embraced this opportunity to dream big and change the world for the better through their Bronze Award project, called “Mito Never Sleeps.” One of the main components was to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease in their community.

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On Sunday, September 16, the girls began a 24-mile bike ride to represent how the disease affects people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the long ride, the girls and their decorated bikes made it the entire journey.

Another leader tweeted this touching message about the ride:

“Today I was honored to support my Girl Scouts as they rode 24 miles to bring attention to those who battle Mitochondrial Disease, 24 hr/day. These amazing girls planned, organized, made phone calls, & hit a goal that was big and scary! Troop #30143”

During the week of the bike ride, the girls also:

  •  

    Asked the principle to have a Go Green Day at school

  • Made a presentation to their science class about Mitochondrial Disease
  • Talked to people about the disease and gave them an awareness ribbon
  • Wore seven pounds of weight on their arms and legs for 24 hours to simulate the feeling of someone who has a muscle disease
  • Wrote a letter to seven politicians to spread awareness, ask for donations for Mito research, and explain the burden the insurance companies place on the person with the disease
  • Made rocks about Mito Awareness

     

The troop explained their passion for their Bronze Award project:

“Mrs. Annie is an inspiration to us and she has taught us to be strong, independent, and confident girls. In return we want to help spread awareness for this horrible disease. And we also want to get the Pharmaceutical companies to stop the burden on the patients who need medical supplies.”

The project ended on a fun note at the 49th Annual Skills and Chills Event at Seven Hills. Keeping with the festivities, Troop 30143 wore their green Mito Awareness shirts and were adorned with different forms of power, including batteries and electricity, because the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The girls decorated their tent with awareness information and even had SWAPs to help spread the word.

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The Girl Scout difference is exemplified in troops like these who show that Girl Scouts make a difference. Through their co-leader Miss Annie, they recognized a need for awareness around Mitochondrial Disease and took action to help with the pharmaceutical companies that take advantage of patients who need supplies.

This is just one of many amazing stories that happen around our council. We’re so proud of our girls and the work they do to help make their community a better place, and the passion they show for helping friends and family.

 

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