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Community shows outpouring of support for teen with cancer


 

Fundraiser Aug. 23 to help with treatments

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community and beyond has wrapped its arms around the family of a local teen with a rare brain tumor, and the alternative cancer treatment they are working so hard to help raise funds for is showing signs of working—something that conventional cancer treatment did not do. In fact, the latest MRI on 15-year-old Brison Ricker shows that the tumor has shrunk to 1/3 the size it was previously.

It’s definitely a miracle—especially when you find out that Brison’s parents—Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, were told less than two months ago by their conventional oncologist to take Brison home and call in hospice because he didn’t have long to live.

Before symptoms began last fall, Brison was a happy, well-liked and athletic teen, who loved riding dirt bikes with his younger brother Preston, and playing soccer. According to Kim, Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman, and voted offensive player of the year.

His symptoms started around Thanksgiving time with dizziness. “He’s extremely active, so I told him to drink enough water, not to get dehydrated,” explained Kim. The symptoms continued and progressed to blurred vision and seeing double, so she made an appointment with their pediatrician after the first of the year. “They said it was an eye issue and sent us to an eye doctor, who prescribed him glasses. “We got those and they didn’t work,” said Kim. “I had a feeling they wouldn’t. I suspected it was something major.”

Kim asked the pediatrician to schedule an MRI to see what was going on, but he didn’t think it was anything major. “I had to fight with him about it. I finally said I’m taking him to the ER to get an MRI then, and he said o.k.” Brison had the MRI and they got the diagnosis on January 22: the MRI showed a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University.

According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable. It grows through the brain stem, where breathing and heartbeat are controlled, “with the healthy and diseased cells tangled like two colors of wool knitted together,” said Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Stanford.

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

The news of Brison’s tumor was devastating for the family. “There’s not words to describe how it felt. We were horrified. Our whole world was crashing down,” shared Kim. She said she also questioned God about it. But Brison’s faith and the support of family and friends helped keep them steady. “He has handled it like a champ. We get strength from him. He has a very strong faith, as do we. And, as soon as we found out, our room was filled with friends from church who came to pray. It helped our focus to be on God’s word and not what the doctors are telling us; to focus on God’s promises and not the diagnosis,” explained Kim.

A Gofundme page was set up for donations, and Team Brison (you can find them on Facebook) began putting together numerous fundraising events to help the family. And people began to pray.

Brison first underwent radiation, and did several alternative treatments at home to help fight the cancer, including eating a strict, healthy, organic diet. Kim said they wanted to go to the Burzynski clinic in Texas in March, when Brison’s radiation was done, because they offered an alternative treatment that had had some success with patients. But she said that the oncologist recommended against it, because he said he had seen people do that and waste their money.

The cost for the first month of treatment down there would be $30,000, and it would be a minimum of $17,000 per month after that. None of it would be covered by insurance. Not to mention the loss of income they would suffer. Faced with that and the fact that the oncologist recommended against it, they didn’t go.

But Brison continued to deteriorate. He lost 25 pounds, and his liver was under stress. The steroids he was on for inflammation broke down his muscle and skin and contributed to fatigue. By the end of April, he needed help to stand, sit, and walk. And his tumor had grown 6mm bigger, and there was swelling in his brain. He continued on steroids and the alternative treatments he was receiving locally.

On June 18, Brison went to the ER because his symptoms were progressing, and had another MRI. The news was devastating—his tumor had doubled in size from just six weeks before and was spreading to other parts of his brain. “The doctors say there are no clinical trials available anywhere for him and there is nothing left that they can do for him, and sent us home to cherish the precious time we have together. They suggested that we call Hospice and said at the rate the tumor is growing they believe his time is very limited,” wrote Kim in a Gofundme update on June 19.
“We went home and called the Burzynski Clinic right away,” said Kim. She researched a few other clinics, but the Burzynksi Clinic was the only one that had any success with treating that type of tumor. And Kim was able to talk with the mother of a 14-year-old that had been treated there, which helped them make their decision. “We prayed about it and felt this is where God was leading us,” she wrote. Additional gene-targeting meds were going to add another $40,000 to the cost, and they didn’t know how they were going to be able to keep the treatments going, but they trusted God and went.

They originally thought they would be there a month, but came back a bit sooner. Some additional new meds the clinic wanted to start him on wouldn’t have been covered there, but the oncologist here agreed to work with them and offered to give them to Brison here, which meant they would be covered by insurance. They still, however, have thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses to be met for other meds.

On Thursday, August 8, they received some amazing news: not only was the tumor one-third the size it was, but it was dying from the inside out. His oncologist here was surprised. “He said he’d never seen any results like this, that basically we were in a gray area of medicine from a regular oncologist’s point of view, because they hadn’t seen this combination of treatments before,” said Kim.

She also spoke with Dr. Burzynski this week, and he wants to continue with the treatment and get an MRI in four weeks. “There is some controversy between the doctors on how treatment will go moving forward but we’ll work it out,” she said. “The main thing is Brison had great results. He is tired and worn, but holding steady. Steady is good. If he was not on this treatment, he would not be with us.”

Kim said that the family has been overwhelmed with the support that they have received, even from people they don’t know. Brison is in awe of it all, especially the little notes or gifts he gets from people. She hopes people will continue to show Brison how much they care about him. “He thinks those gifts and notes are pretty awesome,” she said.

One of the ways their faith in God has helped them through this, is to see how it has affected other people. “A ton of people have said how our faith has strengthened them. It’s amazing to see how through all this we are touching and encouraging people and making their faith stronger,” remarked Kim.

While Brison received good news about his tumor, he is not out of the woods and will need more treatment, which means continuing expenses for the family, and they can only continue the treatments with your help. Another fundraiser has been set for August 23 at Cedar Springs High School at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to benefit Brison. Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities. Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

To donate directly to Brison, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker or send a check to Brison Ricker, 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Fundraiser for Brison Ricker


ENT-Ricker-fundraiser

Would you like to be inspired and help out someone in need at the same time? Then mark your calendar and purchase tickets to hear some great speakers at Cedar Springs High School on Tuesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds from tickets sold will go to help local teen Brison Ricker, who is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.

Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities.

Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

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Fundraiser for Solon’s Velzy Park


 

The Velzy Park Committee is continuing fundraising efforts with a 50/50 raffle this Saturday, August 13, at Solon Market’s Dog Daze Pet Expo. The planned park behind Solon’s Hall will need additional funding before Phase One can begin, as monies slated for the Walking Trail became necessary for a matching grant proposal.  The Park is looking to the community for donations of cash or in-kind donations for construction of the park, as well as to meet the grant requirements. Fund-raising efforts began in February with a spaghetti dinner and dessert auction and have continued throughout the summer. Saturday’s raffle will run during Market hours from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Solon Hall, 15185 Algoma Ave. Plans are underway for a car bash in September—more to be announced at a later date. Be sure to watch the Post for additional information and check out the Velzy Park facebook page (Solon Township’s Velzy Park) for updates.  Donations can be made to Solon Township/Velzy Park.

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Auction raises fund for En Gedi youth center


Pastor Craig Owens and some of the En Gedi youth.

Pastor Craig Owens and some of the En Gedi youth.

The Cedar Springs High School cafeteria was bubbling with excitement last Friday with an approximate 120 attendees for the one and only En Gedi annual fundraiser event.

En Gedi is a Christ-centered Cedar Springs non-profit organization focused on keeping kids in our community safe, encouraged, and mentored. A free afterschool youth center is provided for students in grades 6-8th along with special events for high school students and community members.

This year’s event hit new record highs in donations from area businesses, attending participants, and net profits. Bidders are first allowed to anonymously submit their offer on a wide variety of items ranging from college sports tickets, home furnishings, outdoor equipment and supplies, hunting adventures, games, collective dolls, athletic training items and many more items. A few En Gedi students then presented a short original skit along with a viewing of the En Gedi video. The last event of the night includes a live auction for larger items as well as an opportunity to Sponsor-a-Student.

En Gedi is dependent upon donations to achieve the group’s goal of “building up families in our community.” Kevin Pike, En Gedi Board Secretary, and Jodi Coxon co-chair the event, which netted over $46,000, covering En Gedi’s yearly expenses.

Pastor Craig Owens serves as the Youth Center Director, assisted by Pastors Shasta and Joe Gross, and many adult and high school volunteers. “If you would like to get involved and share your hobby, gifts, and talents with our young people, please get in touch with me at Craig@CSCalvary.org,” said Pastor Owens.

Event Co-Chair Kevin Pike added, “The entire En Gedi Team would like to thank everyone who has and continues to support this local mission and especially this year’s event. Your commitment to the youth of our community is greatly appreciated.”

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CTA Family Strong Fundraiser


 

When people think of CTA, one of the first things that comes to mind is that it is like a small family, so when one of the “family members” was in need, CTA stepped up to the plate. The Bishop family recently received a cancer diagnosis for one of their daughters and CTA designated them the recipient of the #CTAfamilystrong treatment at a recent CTA basketball game at Grace Bible College. Not only did the CTA basketball teams put their best foot forward and win for both the boys and girls games, there were fundraising games for the kids as well as a silent auction to raise money for the Bishop family. In all, the CTA Family Strong fundraiser raised almost $6,000 for the family to put towards transportation and medical costs as they move forward with treatment. A heartfelt thank you to all involved to make this benefit such a huge success!

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Fundraiser to benefit Brison Ricker


 

WERQ dance fitness workout March 11

Join us for a dance fitness party to raise funds that will go towards Brison Ricker’s medical care. Brison Ricker is a 15-year-old Cedar Springs student who was diagnosed in January with inoperable brain cancer.

What better way to raise funds than to come together for a 90-minute dance fitness party? Sweat to some of your favorite songs for a good cause. Let’s do what we can to help kick cancer’s butt!

No experience necessary—anyone can do it! Just throw on your fitness gear, bring a water bottle, a sweat towel, and your favorite dancing/workout friends!

The fundraiser will be Friday March 11, 6-7:30 p.m. at Red Hawk Elementary. The cost is $10.  It will last 90 minutes, with multiple WERQ Instructors, and fun routines to your favorite radio hits!

Just DO IT!

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Fundraiser brings in cash for camp


A live auction raised over $25,000 for Pine Ridge Bible Camp.

A live auction raised over $25,000 for Pine Ridge Bible Camp.

With Christmas songs playing in the background and holiday decorations on every table, 250 people shopped at the Pine Ridge Bible Camp’s 11th annual auction, held at Cedar Springs High School on November 8. A beautiful display of free Hors d’oeuvres and slices of layer cake added to the festive atmosphere, and shoppers tried to outbid each other during the silent and live auction.

Director Kevin Grifhorst spoke halfway through the live auction and read portions of letters describing what going to Pine Ridge Bible Camp means to children and their families. Bidders were given the opportunity to contribute towards scholarships for children. In a matter of minutes, over $7,000 was raised to help send children in need to camp.

In just one evening, 380 items were sold to raise a record-breaking $25,500. Then, an anonymous donor matched that amount and doubled it to $51,000. With $14,000 set aside for the camp scholarships, the rest will be used to help finish the lower level of the VerLee Dining Hall & Retreat Center at Pine Ridge Bible Camp.

 

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Quilt show fundraiser brings in matching funds


N-Library-match-Womans-Life-quilt-show-fundraiserThe Friends of the Cedar Springs Public Library had their Quilt Show Fund Raiser on Jan. 25. Woman’s Life, Cedar Springs Chapter 841 came alongside with a matching fund offer of up to $500. The matching funds were raised, and Dena Wever, Vice President of Woman’s Life, Cedar Springs Chapter 841, presented the check to the Friends of the Library on March 18.

According to Library Director Donna Clark, the $1000 raised with Woman’s Life has been put in the Friends New Library Building Fund.

Woman’s Life is currently working with other Cedar Springs non-profit groups as well. Their motto states, “Connection.Community.Cause.” For more information on what’s happening in Chapter 841 or to see how your group can get matching

funds, go to www.womanslife.org or follow them on Facebook at womanslifechapter841.

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En Gedi auction a big success


Guests browse auction items at the En Gedi silent auction.

Guests browse auction items at the En Gedi silent auction.

Cedar Springs High School hosted the one and only fundraiser of the year for En Gedi youth center Friday, March 21, and people in the community responded both with their presence and with their pocketbooks.

Approximately 150 people attended this year’s big event, which included a silent auction with over 145 items, and 10 bigger items were in the live auction. A money machine and dice game allowed the guests to have some fun. The excitement continued while enjoying the delicious appetizers.

According to Sue Wolfe, the goal for the auction was to make $12,500, to maximize the matching gift from CS Manufacturing. They surpassed that goal by $5,000. Kevin Pike, Co-Chair of the event, reported earnings of $17,794 from the auction, ticket sales, and raffles, plus the $12,500 match from C S Manufacturing, which brought them to $30,294.00 earned for En Gedi in one night.

Guests enjoyed an array of delicious appetizers.

Guests enjoyed an array of delicious appetizers.

“The En Gedi Team is grateful to our community who graciously donated the items and then to our attendees who generously gave,” said Pike. “We know they saw it as more than as a donation for an item, but as a lasting investment in our people’s lives.”

Wolfe was excited to see they exceeded their goal. “Our annual budget is $28,000 so this will allow us to expand on our high school programs and special events,” she explained.

 

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Quilt raffle at Sand Lake/Nelson Library


ENT-Quilt-at-Sand-Lake-Library-webFive dedicated community volunteers put their heads, needles, and thread together for over 40 hours to make a beautiful quilt for the Sand Lake/Nelson Township Library to use as a fundraiser.

The quilt was pieced together by Sharon Hula, Sharon Jones, Lois Williams and Janet Boezwinkle. Long arm quilting was done by Quilting by Carol of Rockford Michigan. This quilt demonstrates the passion these volunteers have for the library and its services.

“We hope that the community likes it as much as we do,” says Glenda Middleton, Library Branch Manager. “These women decided to offer it to the library as a way to raise money for the many services and operations we offer. The colors are so vibrant and cheerful that I imagine many people will love it.”

The quilt is a perfect-sized couch quilt at 68 x 110 inches. It is extra long and great for a nap or comfortable enough for two to stay warm and read a good book (from your library). The value of the quilt is $285.00.

Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $1 each or 6 for $5 at the library, 88 Eighth Street, Sand Lake. The drawing will be held December 21st at 3 p.m. at the library. Need not be present to win.

For more information, contact the KDL Sand Lake/Nelson Library at (616) 784-2007 or visit www.kdl.org.

 

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