Annie McMahon Left Her Mark

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Annie McMahon was a young woman who had a short time on earth but lived fully. Despite living with Cystic Fibrosis, she also lived each day with hope, joy, love and courage. On Thursday, July 25, Annie passed away. She was 22.

Annie McMahon lived in Crestwood, NY. She graduated from Annunciation Elementary School in 2011, and The Ursuline School in 2015, both not far from her home. However, she spent many summers living in Breezy Point and considered it a second home. After all, the Breezy Point and Rockaway communities did what they do best and rallied around a neighbor in need when they learned that a three-year-old girl was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that impacts the lungs and digestive system. In winter 2000, John McMahon, Annie’s father, and a few others, dared Jim Mullen, a bartender at the Tap & Grill to jump in the ocean. As people started giving him money to take the plunge, an idea grew. The money would be donated to Cystic Fibrosis charities. "Take the Plunge for Cystic Fibrosis” grew into an annual event where hundreds took a dip in the chilly waters, around Annie’s birthday in February, on the beaches of Rockaway and later the bay off of Breezy Point. That first bet led to an event that would raise as much as $100,000 annually. Each year, Annie and her family would donate that money to charities like Help Hope Live, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the New York Transplant Fund to help not only Annie, but others going through the same battle. However, for the plunge right after Hurricane Sandy, Annie decided to give back to the community that showed her support over the years, by donating the money to local organizations that were helping with the post-storm recovery.

Annie’s lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis left her with severe respiratory issues. On October 23, 2016, she was given hope when she received a double lung transplant. The recovery was difficult and by July 2017, her body began to reject the transplant. However, on November 2, 2017, Annie got a third chance at life when she received another double lung transplant. Annie went through a period where she got to enjoy a new lease on life. Being able to breathe better, she traveled to Ireland for a family wedding and to Disney World with friends, she sang, she danced, and she became a strong advocate for her fellow “cysters,” other girls going through this difficult disease. Annie got to live again.

A few weeks after Annie stood before the crowd and spoke about her accomplishments at the 19th annual plunge in Breezy Point on February 2, things took a turn for the worse. In the spring, her body began to reject the second transplant. The McMahons looked into the rare option of a third transplant, but as Annie grew sicker, the chances of that happening became more and more slim.

Annie never gave up hope through her courageous battle with CF. She lived a full life and faced challenges head on, with a brave smile that was contagious among those around her. Over the past few months, due to the support of Annie’s Army, her friends and family and all of those who believed in her, Annie received uplifting messages from dozens of celebrities, including one of her idols, Taylor Swift, who spent nearly 20 minutes talking to Annie in a phone call in June. “It meant the world to me,” Annie said in a social media post after the call. On July 5, Annie even paid a visit to Breezy Point, spending a day on the beach with family and friends. “Breezy Point and the beach have always been home to me,” she said in an Instagram post. “This has been a big goal of mine since things took a turn a few weeks ago. I am so blessed to be able to come back.”

On Tuesday, July 25, Annie’s battle came to an end. Annie McMahon died at age 22.  She is finally able to breathe. She is at peace.

Annie is survived by her mother and father, Theresa and John McMahon, her sisters, Kate, Meagan and Claire, her maternal grandmother, Ann Morrissey, her paternal grandmother, Ursula McMahon and her aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who all loved her dearly. On Sunday, July 28, many gathered to pay their respects at the Fred H. McGrath and Son Funeral Home in Bronxville. A Mass was held at the Church of Annunciation in Crestwood on Monday, July 29. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Annie’s memory to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

 Annie, you certainly left your mark.

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