Mackenzie Bearup feels crippling pain everyday. In 5th grade, she got shooting pains in her knee that "felt like a bomb was going off." Doctors diagnosed her with reflex sympathetic dystrophy -- meaning anytime something touches her knee (even the wind) she feels immense pain.
Reading was the only pain reliever that actually worked. Mackenzie began volunteering at a home for abused children and collecting books for them. She started an organization called Sheltering Books to collect books for children in need. Mackenzie has collected 38,000 books to donate to libraries, reading rooms and 27 shelters in six states.
Mackenzie believes that novels can turn people's lives around. "I really think reading can do that to someone," she says.
Mackenzie Bearup is featured as part of CNN's "Heroes" series. A group of CNN Heroes are selected each year to be honored at an annual ceremony in November, with one CNN Hero chosen to receive a large sum of money to continue his/her work. Last year's winner was Efren Peñaflorida.