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Community pulls together for brothers battling cancer

Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community has shown their support over the last nine months for the family of Brison and Preston Ricker, two teen brothers fighting cancer, but the massive number of cans donated at their annual can drive at Meijer this week took everyone by surprise.

This month’s drive started at 5 p.m. Monday, and by 11 p.m. Monday evening, they had to stop counting. Volunteers returned on Tuesday evening, hoping to finish it off. But the cans kept coming, and at last count, over 86,000 cans were donated, and they still have a trailer that is 2/3 full of cans that they are holding until next month.

“We knew that this month’s can drive would be a larger turnout but honestly we were pleasantly shocked at the amount of cans that kept coming throughout the first night and continued again the second night,” said Melissa Egan, of Team Rickerstrong. “It was such a great thing to witness. So many people continue to support Brison in his fight by faithfully donating each month, but when Preston also was diagnosed…the support doubled and that is why we believe it was so much more successful.”

Egan said that they cannot express appreciation enough for the continued support from not only our community, but surrounding communities. “The love, prayers and support for this family is truly amazing. And who would have thought that a can drive that originally started as a way to possibly raise a quick $500 here or there would turn into a monthly fundraiser that has now brought over $30,000! Each month we have loyal volunteers that help feed machines or empty returnables into carts…ranging from adults to kids, all wanting to support the Ricker family.”

Team Rickerstrong started the once a month can drives in July, when the family took Brison to Texas to be seen and treated at the Burzynski Clinic. Dr. Burzynski offered an alternative treatment for Brison’s inoperable brain tumor (DIPG), which conventional treatment could not eradicate. He had been given only months to live. But this alternative costs $17,000 a month, paid up front. And it is not covered under insurance. The good news is that it is working, and Brison is feeling better than he has in months, according to his mom, Kim Ricker. He is eating again, and getting stronger, but not yet walking on his own. He even went to Swirl last weekend, which she said made him really happy.

Preston, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December, and had it surgically removed in January, is recovering, and will soon start radioactive iodine therapy.

Kim was also thankful for the success of this week’s can drive. “It was incredible to see the out pouring of love and support with all the cans that were donated! Although a majority of them came from this amazing community, we had people from surrounding communities and even as far as Caledonia donating their cans. We feel so blessed and are truly grateful to everyone who donated, and all the people who worked so hard getting over 86,000 cans put in the machines. Of course a huge thanks to Meijer, we could do not do this without their support,” she added.

The Rickers are faced with needing a minimum of $17,000 every month for Brison’s treatment. “This has to be paid up front; it is not like normal hospital bills that can accumulate and be paid back over years,” explained Kim. “If we don’t pay, Brison doesn’t get his treatment. Although the can drive was a huge success and raised more than we could have imagined, that amount covers two weeks of treatment, so the need to keep raising funds is great.”

If you would like to donate, you can visit their gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong, or participate in a fundraiser with Team Rickerstrong at https://www.facebook.com/teambrison/. You can also or send a check to them at 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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