Our family was featured in our local newspaper, The Kalamazoo Gazette!

Mattawan family looks to defy odds in fighting rare muscle disease afflicting 2 young sisters.

I can and I will.

This is the mantra that has driven the Kennedy family to find normalcy in an unforeseeable future.

Eric, Sarah and their two daughters, Brooke, 4, and Brielle, 5, are the epitome of an American family.

…Read More Here…

MATTAWAN, MI — Eric Kennedy holds his daughter Brielle during a family outing. Both Brooke and Brielle have to wear leg braces to help them stand. Photo Credit, Josh Mauser

2010 Holiday Wishes from Chad Knaus

What an amazing Christmas gift… awareness about SMA from Chad Knaus!!


Holiday Wishes

Author:Chad Knaus

When you’ve had a year like mine, it’s hard to come up with a holiday wish list. Winning a fifth consecutive championship is about the best present you could get. And winning it the way we did and having to compete down to the last lap made it even better.

So for this holiday season, my wish list will focus on what I’d like to give everyone else.

First, I’d like to wish all the people on the No. 48 Lowe’s team a happy holiday and fantastic New Year. We’ve had a great year together, and next season will be even more incredible.

I’d also like to wish happy holidays to all of the teams at Hendrick Motorsports. We’re one big family, and it will be exciting to watch our family grow and succeed together next season.

For all of the NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson fans out there, I hope next year brings another season of great racing like this year’s. And I hope to see more of you coming out to the racetrack to see the excitement in person.

And I want to wish all of the NASCAR teams, officials and other members of the racing family a great off-season to spend with their friends and families.

Finally, I’d like to wish a very Merry Christmas to two very special little girls: Brielle and Brooke Kennedy. These two amazing little girls deserve an extra special visit from Santa. They are both affected with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is the leading genetic killer of children. Their aunt works at Hendrick Motorsports, which is how I met them. I’d wish for a cure for SMA to help them, and wish that I can continue to help raise awareness and funds for their cause.

Happy holidays everyone! See you in Daytona!

"What Courage Looks Like" -mL Photography

and let me tell you, it doesn’t get any cuter than this.

this is the story of brielle and brooke. the most courageous, wonderfully happy, gentle-spirited, kind, loving just plain *amazing* little people I have ever met. though their story by no means defines them, it is one that must be heard because it is so important and it has changed their lives forever. but you know what? it hasn’t changed *them.* they are way too incredible to let it.

both of these beautiful sisters have a rare and devastating disease known as SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type II.

beacause that is all the time I am going to give that wicked disease right now. this day was about THEM. about how they are an inspiration to anyone who has ever had to fight for their life or struggled with pain. because, if you didn’t *know* they had SMA, well, then you wouldn’t *know* it. they are just that amazing. their smiles melted my heart and I swelled with love from the moment their big, wild, curly hair (jealous…) and kind eyes graced me with their presence. and from the moment we first met until stickers and the best hugs EVER were exchanged, their smiles never took a backseat.

brielle and brooke? you overWHELM me with your courage and strength.

and believe me, you are about to fall in love, too….

beautiful, bubbly, big laughter, big hearted big sister brielle.

sweet, soft-spoken, silly, spontaneous, super fun, smaller sister, brooke.

every image makes my heart swell. three sizes too big. but the good too big.


we had a pretty good time I think….and with these two, living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment of it, how could I not do the same??


just a little supermodel break, you know….

sisters. they are in this thing called life together.

with some serious love and support from their ahMAZing mama. (super gorgeous and kind mama, I might add…)

super serious loving….

I think the feeling is pretty mutual…

courage defined.

strength you never thought was possible from such itty little ones.

but this is what it looks like.

and I think, it is going to be near impossible for anything to get these two down.

actually, I *know* it. and I am so honored to know such amazing, beautiful girls. whom we can never stop fighting for. because I know? they never will either.

Posted by

missy widener

Thursday, September 16, 2010


8:41 PM

August 22 ~ Declared Spinal Muscular Awareness Day In Michigan.

Brielle and Brooke received a very special certificate in the mail from our Michigan Senator, Carl Levin, in honor of SMA Awareness Day!


 Brooke and Brielle with the special flag from our Senator.

The certificate reads:

“This is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown over the United States Capitol on August 22, 2010.

At the request of the Honorable Carl Levin, United States Senator, this flag was flown for Brielle and Brooke Kennedy on the occasion of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Day.” 

Check out our feature in the FSMA Chapter Updates here!

"Betting on Brielle and Brooke" -Team Lowe's Track Record Magazine

August is SMA Awareness month! Brielle and Brooke are featured in an article with Chad Knaus inside the Lowes quarterly racing news magazine called, “Track Record.” This magazine goes out to 750,000 homes! That’s right, SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND homes!!! What great awareness! Thank you Lowes & Chad for helping us raise awareness about Spinal Muscular Atrophy!!

Betting on Brielle and Brooke


Chad Knaus



Usually, the only gambling I do is on two tires versus four during a pit stop, or maybe on fuel mileage.  But I had an opportunity recently to bet on something far more important – at a casino night to benefit Brielle and Brooke Kennedy.

Brielle and her sister Brooke are both affected with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is the leading genetic killer of children.  Their aunt works at Hendrick Motorsports, and that’s how I met them.

The girls are adorable.  They’re very cute and very sweet. They’re extremely resilient and tough little ladies.  They definitely touched a soft spot in my heart and I wanted to help them any way I could and get some awareness out there.

We just held a poker tournament for them and a number of drivers and crew chiefs came out. We were able to raise a lot of money for these little girls and for SMA.

It’s really nice to be able to help this family.  It’s such a rare disease, and to have two little girls in that family affected by it, is just terrible.  I like the fact that I can help to a degree, and wish I could help more.

One exciting thing is that we’re looking for ways to help them with a wheelchair accessible conversion for their van so they can travel easier.  The poker night went a long way in raising money for their van, so we plan to have it for them soon.

They usually come to the Michigan race, so hopefully I’ll see them in the fall.  They all came to the race last year, and it was great to see how much they enjoyed it.  I had a chance to give Brielle a tour of the transporter, introduce her to some drivers and even put her in the racecar.  I knew our day was complete when she wished me luck on the race.

If other people would like to make a donation for these great little girls, they can contribute to:

Friends of Brooke & Brielle 

P.O. Box 740

Mattawan, MI  49071 

It’s an honor for me to be able to help this family and to see the progress of Brielle and Brooke.  It’s a bet that’s paying off in the most important ways.

Online version of the article:


Brielle and Chad Knaus.

Chad Knaus's Three Wishes - Sporting News

Sporting News’ 50 Most Beautiful People:  Chad Knaus


Sporting News asked that question of readers, fans and those who cover the sport, and the results weren’t limited by traditional definitions of beauty. The editors considered fan favor


Who are NASCAR’s most beautiful people?

The sites and sponsor favorites and gave them points, and they also awarded points to “those were were making waves in the sport.”

The results of this non-traditional approach are now out with the publication of NASCAR’s 50 Most Beautiful People. The special edition is now available on newsstands and at the online store at www.streetandsmiths.com.

SceneDaily is running the list, with one person from the top 50 to be featured each day. Only the top selection was ranked, with the rest following in a random order that allows fans to decide who should be ranked where.

Today’s installment features Chad Knaus, four-time NASCAR Cup championship crew chief with the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team of Jimmie Johnson.

Born: Aug. 5, 1971
Birthplace: Rockford, Ill.
Current residence: Cornelius, N.C.

In his words:
First job: I was washing cars in a used car dealership. I was working at a detail shop. I was 13 at the time, maybe 12.

Last year … [We won] our third straight [Cup] championship.

Pet peeve: I’d say, uncleanliness. I like things to be clean and neat and orderly. I’m a little anal retentive, a little type-A.

Can’t live without … my job. It’s everything I live for. I have a great group of guys. I have a great job. It’s definitely the one thing I’m most proud of and wouldn’t want to be without it.

Life-changing moment: We had a plane crash that took the lives of many who were very close to us. That was probably the largest reality check. It made me realize there’s a lot more to what we do and it means a lot more to people than what you may think. Watching the Hendricks go through what they did, it makes you understand relationships with people and understand love and what they mean to you.

In 10 years … I hope that I am married with a child or children and healthy and still involved in the sport.

Vacation: I typically will go to an island, somewhere where I can go scuba diving or snorkeling.

Best race track/city: Obviously Las Vegas is fantastic. It’s a cool city; there’s a lot going on. The facility at the track is awesome, and it’s very fan friendly. But they’ve (race tracks) all got their little twists. Infineon is cool. It’s a neat area. It’s beautiful with the mountains and the vineyards. I like going up there and staying at the winery. A lot of fans like that. There’s the going up and doing the wine tasting and there’s a lot of great restaurants. It’s a lot of fun.

Three wishes: My first wish would be to have a good wife and family. A successful family relationship — that would be awesome. My second wish would be to help kids. A friend of mine has two daughters who have spinal muscular atrophy (a genetic disease that causes muscle degeneration and weakness); if I could help them, I would. And my third wish would be to get three more wishes.

Chad Knaus and Brielle at Michigan International Speedway.