Pink Out 2020

Last Friday was our 12th Annual Pink Out event. This is the one day of the year that our amazing community comes together to support and make the renewed commitment that we will do everything in our power to fight against the ugly disease we call cancer. We cherish the gift of life and we will continue to support our families. I am so thankful that our gym is packed to standing room only on a yearly basis on this special night!

While this is no doubt a community wide effort, I also wanted to recognize the momentum our Jenison High School student body creates each and every year. In addition to t-shirt sales and donations, these students have creatively invented opportunities for fundraising and donated nearly $15,000 through the ‘Senior Survivor’ as well as the Men’s Varsity Basketball free throw contest.

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We were also honored to share this evening with our neighbors, the Reeths Puffer community, who recently stood in battle with one of their middle school teachers. We empathize with their loss and are glad that they were able to experience being a part of something we know is near and dear to their hearts as well.

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2020

Jenison Pink Out Honorees

Melanie Davis, Kimberly Duch, Ofelia Munez, Jody Heyboer, and Zach Schab. Continued support to you, from our entire community!

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Melanie Davis

Melanie’s whirlwind cancer journey began during the pregnancy of her 3rd child. A headache revealed a tumor which was successfully removed during the pregnancy. Not long after that, additional tumors were discovered throughout her body and diagnosed.

She was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that initially came from her son’s school – people who were perfect strangers. Melanie didn’t want to ask for help and wasn’t really sure what to expect through treatments or even what sort of support she would need. That expanded into an introduction to the Pink Out team. The leaders of Pink Out were the face to all the names that were already praying for and offering Melanie’s family support. They provided additional emotional support and a listening ear. Pink Out was there with gas and meal cards, flowers, cookies, encouragement cards and more! And in true Jenison fashion, the Pink Out team went above and beyond in support for the family when their infant daughter passed away after fighting a medical condition. Melanie, you are not in this fight alone!

Kimberly Duch

Cancer is relentless and knows no boundaries. Just a few years ago, the Duch family came to Pink Out to honor Kim’s Mother-in-law Dianne Duch. Dianne was a courageous fighter and a friend to so many in the community. She passed away about a month before Kim’s diagnosis. Today, Kim takes a spot on the Pink Out floor to share about her journey with breast cancer. After finally facing her overdue mammogram, she found herself building her life around consults, appointments and many other facets of this journey they were all too familiar with. Early detection was on her side and with an aggressive plan of action, she had a very good prognosis and now recovery. Kim is exceptionally grateful for the friendship and continued support from Pink Out throughout her battle. Kim, we’re so happy you and your family came to share your story.

Ofelia Munez

Ofelia, with her family by her side, has been fighting Lung cancer since last spring. Surgery, recovery and chemo left her very tired with much pain and sadness. A knock on her door from the Pink Out team ushered in a new season of joy and hope. She not only received financial assistance to ease some burdens of bills and Christmas shopping, but immense encouragement and a real sense of community as well.

It was a treat to hear Ofelia deliver her story in Spanish, then her daughter Kristen Vega, translated in English adding her own perspective. She was a 2017 graduate of Jenison High School who sat in these bleachers just a few years ago – never imagining she would be standing on this gym floor with her own family some day. She is so thankful to Pink Out for all the support her mom and family has received. Ofelia and Kristen, we are thankful for the opportunity to be of assistance during this time. May you keep the joy and hope you have found!

Jody Heyboer

Pink Out has been with Jody since the beginning of her cancer journey in 2017. She was an honoree of Jenison Pink Out in 2018 and she enjoyed participating in the event from the stands in 2019. This year, she’s back to share her ongoing story. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries describes the last two years for her and her family. And the journey is far from over. A new diagnosis has her starting chemotherapy again this week. The ongoing commitment from the Jenison Pink Out team helps her know that she’s not alone and definitely not forgotten. The theme for the Pink Out teeshirts this year includes an umbrella and she has definitely felt protection from the storm. Jody – we’re holding on tight with you during this rollercoaster ride! Keep choosing joy!

Zach Schab

Upon diagnosis of a brain cancer, Zach was no doubt aware that he would go through some major physical changes and challenges but he was shocked to feel the toll he would take emotionally and psychologically. Experiencing trauma creates a weight that is not easily carried alone. He makes a passionate case for helping your neighbor whether they are dealing with cancer or not. Thank you Zach for such a reminder that we all can give just a little bit of effort to offer a great amount of help.

“Thankfully as humans we are not a solitary species, we have the ability to lighten the load of everybody around us. As a community, we have the power to change lives and embolden others. And not just those who have struggled with cancer – everybody can use a little extra help.” Zach Schab, Brain cancer survivor

This evening is always so inspiring and I am proud to be a part of this community. Each year, this event serves as a celebration of those who fight tenaciously and takes time to pause for those that we remember.

Thank you so much to the community, students, businesses – everyone who has put forth a small effort to make a big change for those in our community who are suiting up for the fight of their lives. Hope is brought to these fighters by the community and we are going to walk every step alongside them until their storm runs out of rain!

Please visit the Jenison Pink Out Facebook page to watch the Live recording of the ceremony. The Pink Out game is jam packed with action – from games and ceremony to special performances. The full photo gallery can be found here.

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In its second year, “Senior Survivor” was able to bring in $8,600 to benefit Jenison Pink Out. Based on the television show, 9 senior students attempt to raise money and compete in challenges to remain in the game. Thank you to the school chaperones who spent the night at school with them, the local business who kept them fed and most of all their friends and family who cheered them on and supported their efforts!

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The YEAR ROUND dream team behind Jenison Pink Out! Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the leadership of our Pink Out committee: Moni Marlink, Cindi Covell, Katy Hevelhurst, Jean Krzewski, and Donna Bergeon. These are some caring, compassionate women on a mission to care for their neighbors whenever it is needed; they are making a huge impact! THANK YOU!!

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Principal, Jon Mroz accepts the Pink basketball in recognition of best Pink Out Spirit Day at Sandy Hill Elementary. Way to go kids little Wildcats!

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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!

 

 

Stand By You: Pink Out 2017

miii3935The High School gym was, once again, a sea of pink on Friday night as the Jenison community showed their support for those fighting the battle of breast cancer.

This year, there were eight honorees: Jill Barnes, Jane Carlson, Carolyn DeJong, Dianne Duch, Michelle Gradisher, Shirley Kerkstra, Joni Otto, and Stephanie Tuttle [not necessarily pictured in this order].

miii3411For Michelle [3rd from right], she was overwhelmed by being an honoree but once she arrived to the “pinked out” gym that night and started getting to know some of the other honorees, those fears were gone. Michelle was diagnosed through a mammogram that she desperately wanted to avoid that particular day but chose to go through with it. The office was calling her to return to the hospital before she even got home that day. On March 31 of last year she underwent a double mastectomy which she describes as a “no brainer” based on the test results and family history of breast cancer. She is incredibly thankful for her amazing support team and encourages women not to avoid those important mammogram appointments!

miii3660Joni Otto [1st on the left] was a Jenison teacher for 22 years and is thankful for the science and availability of genetic testing, which she believes is a gift we all need to take advantage of. Joni discovered she had breast cancer and opted for the lumpectomy. Meanwhile, she had genetic testing done which revealed she was at a high risk for breast cancer, so she chose to go a step further and have a bilateral mastectomy to prevent any further occurrences which seemed likely in light of the test results. It wasn’t an easy decision for Joni but she felt that it was the right thing to do to protect herself and her family. She is hoping that her former students will dig deep into their pockets to donate to the Pink Out cause on her behalf!

miii3685Stephanie and Shirley [3rd and 4th from the left respectively] are daughter and mother honorees and Stephanie also says that genetic testing is an essential and lifesaving aspect to her story as well. Her mom Shirley is a breast cancer survivor [and three time honoree!] and Stephanie didn’t want her family to go through another season of cancer. She believes her mom feels guilty for passing on the gene but she also sees genetic testing as a gift, especially when it revealed the BRCA gene which can lead to breast and ovarian cancers. She also urges readers to consider genetic testing if you have a family history of breast cancer as the preventative measures “are much better than going through treatment.”

[If you’d like to explore genetic testing, you can do so locally at Spectrum Health. Please note – this is not an endorsement, merely a local resource.]

miii3680Three of our honorees discovered their cancer through self exams and took a moment in their introductions to make sure and encourage women in the audience to remember to do this. Everyone stressed the importance of regular mammograms and the Spectrum Health mobile mammography unit was in the parking lot, available for tours!

miii3770Finally, High School Principal, Dr. Brandon Graham, introduced Cindi Sigmon as a special honoree. Cindi has been battling Multiple Myleloma since January 2016. “She has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy and received a stem cell transplant this summer” and “for the past 21 years, she has shown love to the students, staff, community members and parents that have traversed the halls of Jenison High School.” Cindi was escorted to the floor by her husband and received a standing ovation for her courage, service, and strength.

All of our Pink Out Honorees are extra-special reminders to our community of the value of perseverance and we thank them for being willing to come forward and share their stories. May you and your support teams know how important you are to all of us!

Thank you to all of the Pink Out volunteers, financial supporters, and participants who came out last Friday to make this another great year! It’s a powerful message we send each year to those who are struggling as well as those have suffered a loss. Together, we will Stand By You. We are Jenison!

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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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