Pink Out 2018!

There may have been a snow day last Friday, but it didn’t stop the Jenison family from coming out to paint the High School gym pink!

Celebrating the tenth anniversary, the Pink Out committee chose to expand their focus to include honoring Jenison community members dealing with other types of cancer, while acknowledging that their roots remain in the fight against breast cancer. In the ten years since Pink Out began, they have raised over $100,000, recognized over 100 warriors and sold 15,000 Pink Out t-shirts.

Karen Koekkoek knows what it’s like to fight against breast cancer but she never expected it to happen again after finding her first lump at the age of nineteen. Now in her early 60’s, she was vigilant with her mammograms, self-checks, and doctor’s appointments. But despite her best efforts, she was diagnosed in August of 2016 and the type of cancer she had was called, “aggressive and invasive”. She received chemo for five months, radiation five days a week for six weeks and has experienced the first part of a double mastectomy. Karen’s daughter, Sherrie VanManen, says it’s a “huge honor” to be recognized by the Pink Out team and to be taken under their wing with support. Karen adds, “Faith over fear quickly became my motto. February of 2018, 125 appointments later, I am a survivor, cancer free!” We celebrate with you, Karen!

2010 Jenison graduate, Marcy VanderMeer was a senior when Pink Out first began. She was only 22 when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April 2015. “It feels overwhelming to be an honoree. I am thankful to the committee for all the ways they supported me and my family.” In the first six weeks after hearing the news, Marcy says she was in shock but there was already so much happening in the Jenison community. There was a spaghetti dinner and chili cook-off fundraiser and even a neighborhood elementary buddy raising money for Marcy’s treatment. “Although fear was present in my life and I lost many friends along my three year journey, being part of this community has made all the difference in my ability to keep moving forward.”

Unfortunately, children in our community are not immune to cancer’s reach. Sam Lewinski is a four year old at the ECC and Shawn VanPutten is a 2014 Jenison graduate, both of whom are in remission. Shawn says, “Jenison Pink Out has offered support to me and my family during our journey: cards to let me know they were thinking of me, texts to my mom to let her know she was not alone and to provide words of encouragement. They also provided financial assistance for my ever-mounting medical bills, so thank you for supporting the power of pink because the warriors need to know that no one fights alone.”

Sam’s mom spoke on his behalf while Sam stood proudly on the podium. Through tears, she described their journey with Wilms Tumor, a kidney cancer and thanked the community for surrounding them through this struggle. “Just nine months ago, Sam finished his final chemo and was told there is no evidence of disease. During his treatment, he had several surgeries, radiation, and chemo. During that time, this community proved itself time and time again. We moved from Ohio ten years ago and I can truly say that this battle could not have been fought three hours from family without this community and the Pink Out community that showed up even we didn’t know them. We can now call Jenison our home and our family.”

Finally, warrior Jody Heyboer shared her journey with stage three colorectal cancer. Less than a year ago, Jody learned the news of her diagnosis and she quickly heard from the Pink Out team and “for the past ten months ,their support has been nothing short of amazing. When you don’t have cancer or are not directly affected by it, it’s hard to understand. Pink Out understands. Please know, the money you donate to this organization goes to help people in the community affected by cancer and I cannot being to express my gratitude for all those connected to Pink Out.” Jody learned in January that her tests revealed no evidence of disease, however, her fight against cancer isn’t over just yet. As of two days prior to Pink Out she learned cancer had returned and the Pink Out committee presented her with a check towards her medical expenses and reminded her that she is not alone.

Each year, this event serves as a celebration of those who warrior on and takes time to pause for those that we remember. We are grateful to all of those who braved the snow, but especially to those who brave the fight against cancer!

2018 Distinguished Honorees:

Dave Huyser           Sam Lewinski          Jody Heyboer          Marcy VanderMeer          Karen Koekkoek         Shawn VanPutten

Warriors: Karen Koekkoek, Marcy VanderMeer, Jody Heyboer, Sam Lewinski, Shawn VanPutten, Dave Huyser

You are all warriors and Jenison is proud to fight alongside each and every one of you! You are not alone! Thank you, Jenison community for your ongoing support of Pink Out – your partnership is vital to sustaining our warriors!

 

 

Pink Out 2016: Count On Me

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Once again the Jenison community came out in droves to support those in our community surviving and thriving in the face of breast cancer. Eight Jenison women in different stages of their fight were honored in a gym that was filled to capacity with supporters and fellow fighters.

MIII6934The women’s basketball team kicked off the athletic festivities in what seemed like it would be a dramatic come-from-behind victory against Lowell. But, despite a win not being in the cards for the women, it was still a great day to be a Wildcat!

In between the basketball games the crowd was introduced to Sister Sue Tracy who is a five-time cancer survivor and she shared a special word of encouragement meant to remind each one of us to “Celebrate Life”! She had the entire gym cheering out the letters for her message including:

MIII6742Count your blessing, not your worries. Express your feelings honestly. Learn to laugh and laugh to learn. Endure what is necessary. Be open and flexible. Remain in charge, networking with family and doctors. Accept and face your own mortality. Treasure each day and each experience. Exercise your mind body and spirit as you are are able.

Sr. Sue has been fighting three different types of cancer over the last 30 years. She says that cancer has made her glad to be alive and sensitive to others. “We all belong to this club that no one would ever want to be part of but here we are. I have found cancer to be much more life-giving even in the midst of being life-threatening. There have been opportunities to deepen in wisdom and it helps us to focus our priorities, to be empathetic to others, a compassion that comes because we don’t have any certainty about a long, long life. I only have today and what can I be and do in that. An event like this calls us all together in support and the Jenison support of each other is remarkable and very special.”

MIII6510The honorees of this year’s Pink Out are: Sharon Aalderink, Karen Meyers, Paula Bowen, Kristin Millard, Shirley Kerkstra, April Spohn, Jill LaMaire and Brandi Tyler [not pictured in this order]

They were all introduced to the crowd and walked across the bridge with family members by their side. Some of them were very recently diagnosed and facing the journey ahead while other honorees are survivors with cancer in their rear view mirrors and words of encouragement for those around them. Their introductions also gave them the chance to say “thank you” to friends, coworkers and family members for their love, meals, fundraisers and prayers.

MIII7034Other highlights from the entire Pink Out event included: the Jenison JV and Varsity Dance Team performing to “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, pink ice at the varsity hockey game, a raucous high school assembly at the end of the school day and, of course, a sea of pink everywhere you looked throughout the district. A special “thank you” to the Lowell community as well for sharing in our special day and we tip our hats to your Pink Arrow event during football season!

Eleven year survivor, Shirley Kerkstra, says that if she could tell those with a new diagnosis anything it is, “You make it. It’s an emotional roller coaster but you make it.”

Thank you to all of our volunteers, sponsors, supporters and of course, our honorees, for making this event such a special day for the district. And remember, no matter where you are on the journey you can Count On Me. We Are Jenison!

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Celebrating Life at the 2013 Pink Out

Amidst the swirling flakes of a winter storm and with threats of a February white out, Jenison community members packed the house for their 5th Annual Pink Out!

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Superintendent TomTenBrink formally opened the festivities with words of hope:

“Cancer is a six letter word that evokes denial, disbelief, questioning, and anger. And if you’ve ever received this diagnosis, you know these feelings all too well.

…And even though we’ve lost two very special ladies from our community, Brenda Huyser and Lori Stabile, we’re not here to memorialize them. We’re here to celebrate life. We’re here to honor the taken, to encourage those fighting the battle right now, and to continue fighting for a cure!”

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With the help of JHS winter athletes bearing pink and white flags, seven Jenison women were chaperoned into the gymnasium in honor of their battle against that “six letter word.” Accompanied by loved ones, the women shared their stories personally or had them read aloud on their behalf.

“If you had told me a year ago that I’d be standing here talking about breast cancer, I would not have believed you. Last August I had my mammogram; an hour and a half later I received a phone call saying I needed a biopsy, and six days later I had a diagnosis. I had breast cancer,” Mary Visser opened.

“But the miracle of my story is that the encologist caught it at 0.05 cm in diameter — that’s equivalent to a grain of salt! The Jenison community was with me through it all. The meals, cards, prayers, and Patty Diekevers‘ monster cookies were medicine to my soul.”

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Mary Visser shares her breast cancer story.

Mary’s message of early detection paired perfectly with the presence of the Betty Ford Mobile Mammogram offering affordable services just outside the high school doors. This theme resounded through the night, underscoring the need for self-examinations, mammograms, and timely doctor’s visits, and early treatment.

The Jenison community has always rallied around its own, giving generously at Thanksgiving and Christmas and beyond. How fortunate that our Pink Out game is no different: we are pleased to announce that over the past five years, over $50,000 has been raised to help support families right here in our zip code who are struggling under the weight of oppressive medical bills.

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Courtney DeWent spoke on behalf of her mother Tracy DeWent who was recently diagnosed with the disease. Her words captured the feelings of so many women who have walked this road before her:

“Thank you to everyone for all the prayers and for everything you’ve done for us. People we don’t even know have encouraged us. We’re so lucky to be a part of a community like Jenison!”

Thank you to all who came out in support of the Pink Out! Together, we are Jenison!

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The Jenison High School Dance Team performs to Rascal Flatts “I Won’t Let Go” in honor of those with cancer and those who walk the road with them.

“Puttin’ On The Pink” at Jenison High School

A week ago Jenison had the privilege of hosting our 4th annual “Puttin’ On The Pink,” an event which calls attention to breast cancer and recognizes those whose lives have been affected by the disease. I could not be more proud of our community for standing alongside these women as they walk through trials, recover from illness, and remember those whose lives were stolen too soon.

Held during a varsity boy’s basketball game, one of the evening’s highlights occurred during halftime when eleven local breast cancer survivors were honored, including Brenda Huyser (pictured above with her mother Vicki Postema). Tributes were spoken and memories that were shared by family members touched us all.

To raise awareness and promote prevention, the Betty Ford Breast Cancer mobile mammogram bus was on hand offering free mammograms, something many women forego due to the related expense or lack of insurance.

Katie Bosch

We enjoyed the amazing talents of student Katie Bosch who sang “I’m Going To Love You Through It All”; we spent the night cheering for our team on the court.

Furthermore, I’m delighted to report that our generous Jenison community raised $30,000 during this event!! All proceeds will go to local families in need who are currently walking through the difficult waters of cancer. It is our joy to encourage you!

At the end of the night, our hearts were pink and tied with the ribbon that reminds us all how precious life is.

Our sincere thank you goes out to the more than 20 Jenison business owners who supported this night, and of course, the Jenison women (below) who planned our event: Moni Marlink, Katy Hevelhurst, Cyndi Covell, and Carla Trammell (not pictured). We couldn’t have done it without you!