The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation
Promoting education and awareness of a vaccine-preventable disease

A Non-Profit 501 (C) (3) Corporation
McKenzie Hartwig
McKenzie Hartwig


National Meningitis

Center for
Disease Control


The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, is for charitable, medical, educational and scientific purposes, in honor of McKenzie Carter Hartwig.

To educate those individuals most susceptible to meningitis. To provide funds for those who cannot afford to participate in the state vaccination program, or who are outside the age eligibility, but are still at risk.

To maintain our endowment and continue our educational efforts in Wyoming, while expanding them to other states.

Education and Vaccination Program | What is Meningitis? | About McKenzie | How You Can Help | Contact Us

About McKenzie
McKenzie Hartwig attended high school in Pinedale, Wyoming and graduated in 2001. McKenzie was a beautiful, vivacious 18-year old, who was named Wyoming All State in Volleyball, Basketball and Track in 2001. She played the flute and piccolo; could speak two languages, loved to travel, and was an honor student. She was a freshman at the University of South Dakota on a volleyball scholarship with business and foreign language classes.

In August, 2001, while attending a volleyball tournament in North Dakota with her college teammates, she suddenly became ill and died that same evening.

McKenzie died of a vaccine-preventable disease!


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What is Meningitis?
Serious meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the spinal cord and brain. Five subtypes can rapidly develop into serious illness or death over a period of one or two days or within a matter of hours.

What are the symptoms?
Meningitis resembles the flu with nausea, high temperature, headache, neck stiffness, respiratory problems, drowsiness and bleeding under the skin.


Getting It: A Disease...
A Vaccine

This educational video was made by the McKenzie Meningitis Foundation, together with the National Meningitis Association, has been awarded the 2007 Bronze Telly Award. The video was made possible by funding from Sublette County Board of Cooperative Education (BOCES).

How serious is bacterial meningitis?
Many victims suffer permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, blindness, brain damage, or limb amputation. Numerous cases of meningitis disease have led to death.

Who is at risk?
Meningococcal meningitis strikes nearly 3,000 Americans each year. Recent data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that military personnel and college freshmen are at a six-fold increased risk of contracting the disease. This is due to crowded, communal living quarters, lifestyle, and irregular sleep patterns.

Is Meningococcal Meningitis preventable?
In most cases it is preventable. There are two vaccines available in the U.S. Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4 or Menomune) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and available since 1981. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4 or MenactraT) was licensed in 2005. Both vaccines can prevent four types of meningococcal diseases. Menactra is recommended by the CDC, because it lasts for 10 years. If it is not available, the CDC recommends Menomune, which lasts approximately three years.


6 Facts about meningococcal disease and prevention

1) Anyone at any age can get meningococcal disease, but teens and young adults are among those who are at increased risk.

2) Although rare, meningococcal disease can develop rapidly and can claim a life in as little as one day. Even with treatment, 10 to 15 percent of those who get the infection will die from it.

3) Among those who survive, as many as 19 percent live with permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function or limb amputations.

4) Meningococcal disease is contagious. The bacteria that cause the infection can spread when people have contact with someone's saliva, like through kissing, coughing, sharing beverages or even cosmetics.

5) Vaccination is the best defense against meningococcal disease, yet the majority of teens have missed a critical dose of the MenACWY vaccine at age 16. In fact, less than half of U.S. teens have received the recommended second vaccination.

6) For the best protection against meningococcal disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine MenACWY vaccination for adolescents starting at ages 11-12 years, with a second dose at 16 years of age


Get your teen the CDC recommended second MenACWY shot they need

Meningococcal disease, which includes meningococcal meningitis, is a rare, but potentially deadly, bacterial infection. It can strike quickly and lead to devastating complications such as hearing loss, damaged organs or limb amputations.

At age 16, teens are due for a critical CDC-recommended second dose of MenACWY to help protect them from the dangers of meningococcal meningitis. This second dose helps provide essential protection against meningococcal meningitis for teens and young adults, when the risk of contracting the disease increases. Unfortunately, less than half of U.S. teens actually get this critical recommended second vaccination.

Parents: Don't Wait. Talk with your child's health care provider to get your teen the second dose they may need to help protect them from meningococcal meningitis. It's also a good opportunity to ask about other recommended vaccinations at your teen's 16-year visit.

Please Help

With your help and support, we can make this a Proactive Foundation and protect every child in Wyoming. We are determined and focused to reach this very real and attainable goal. Please help us. We thank you in advance for your consideration and interest in Wyoming's children. If you need more information, please contact any one of the Board of Trustees listed below.

Your contribution is tax deductible.

Education and Vaccination Program
Pinedale, Wyoming

     The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation is an organization founded in Sublette County, Wyoming, in 2002, to promote awareness of the dangers of meningococcal meningitis and to help high school seniors be vaccinated against the disease. The foundation was set up to honor Sublette County's McKenzie Hartwig.
      In August 2001, McKenzie left home for the University of South Dakota, looking forward to all the challenges that college would bring. Just 18 years old, she anticipated an exciting life ahead of her; attending parties and making new friends, playing on the USD volleyball team, and pursing an international business degree that, she hoped, would eventually take her abroad to live.
"That day, when we hugged and kissed her good-bye, I never, ever thought it would be the last time we would see her alive," says McKenzie's Mom, Laurie Hartwig. "There are always those nagging little thoughts in the back of every parent's mind: 'Wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, be careful of drugs.' We had always talked about those kinds of dangers to both of our kids."
      But the one danger the Hartwigs never even considered was meningococcal meningitis. The disease is a bacterial infection that causes severe swelling of the brain and spinal cord coverings and can result in death or long-term disabilities such as brain damage, sight and hearing loss, and limb amputations. It affects more than 3,000 people in the United States each year. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past decades the disease has been spreading among adolescents and young adults. College students living in dormitories are at particular risk, due to their crowded living conditions, irregular eating and sleeping habits, and compromised immune systems.
      A majority of the cases of meningitis on college campuses today could be prevented with a simple vaccination. Most military recruits are now given the vaccination, and the military academies require it for incoming freshmen. But other college-bound students, like McKenzie Hartwig, often do not even know of the risk. The CDC recommends all children be vaccinated at their routine preadolescent visit (11 to 12 years of age). The CDC also now recommends a booster shot for those who were vaccinated between the ages of 11-16. For those who have never been vaccinated, a dose is recommended at high school entry. Other adolescents who want to decrease their risk of meningococcal disease can also get the vaccine. Other people at increased risk for whom routine vaccination is recommended are college freshmen living in dormitories, microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria. U.S. military recruits, anyone who has a damaged spleen or whose spleen has been removed; anyone who has terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder), anyone who is traveling to the countries which have an outbreak of meningococcal disease, and those who might have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.
      To aid in that effort, one year after McKenzie's death, Ken and Laurie Hartwig started The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation. "We wanted to do something," says Ken Hartwig. "We wanted to turn McKenzie's tragic death into something positive and meaningful, and we feel this is a major step forward.
      "The mission of The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, is to pursue charitable, medical, educational and scientific projects in honor of McKenzie Carter Hartwig. In the spring of 2003, the foundation provided the vaccine to all graduating seniors in Sublette County, Wyoming, and continued to do so until 2006. At that time, at the urging of the foundation, the State of Wyoming agreed to include the meningitis vaccination in its Wyoming Immunization Program. The foundation now provides financial assistance for those who cannot afford the co-pay. In addition, we are actively working to educate people about meningitis, and the need to be vaccinated against it, in Wyoming and other states. The foundation also helped the National Meningitis Foundation produce an award winning educational video. "Getting It: A Disease... A Vaccine" along with educational packets for school health classes.
      "We are devastated and heartbroken, particularly since we have found out that this tragedy could have been prevented," Laurie Hartwig explains. "We don't want any parent to go through the suffering and anguish that we are experiencing."

B o a r d   o f   T r u s t e e s




The McKenzie Meningitis Foundation
PO Box 1368  
Pinedale, Wyoming 82941