Picasso did not paint with nearly enough colors. Galileo fell short when constructing a calendar with only 12 months. There are not enough tears, hugs, wishes or donations to cover the spectrum signaled by the word: cancer.
The yellow ribbons of September and childhood cancer awareness will give way to the now iconic pink of breast cancer awareness in October, followed by mustaches for men’s health and white lapel decorations for lung cancer awareness in November. Sadly, the list goes on and on.
Locally, community groups, school organizations and medical health professionals work to fight back against cancer in a multitude of fashions. Recently, the Lowell community surpassed $1 million in their five-year-old fundraiser to help support patients, relieve families and educate students about the dreadful disease. Greenville High School, in partnership with Spectrum Health, dedicates the winter months to “Hunt for a Cure” through awareness basketball games. Other local communities, including Central Montcalm, Carson City and Lakeview, participate in “pink out” events in October to show support for the fight.
In Belding, The B Foundation was created with the goal of keeping local money in the community to support families who are fighting the disease. To date, the group has provided over $11,000 in support to Belding area residents afflicted by cancer. Twenty-three families have received aid, ranging from gas to drive back and forth to hospital visits, help paying utility bills, construction of wheelchair ramps, and much more. Stafford Media Solutions and The Daily News have served as partners for the Belding community, sponsoring the 5K Glow Run/Walk, with all funds raised remaining in the local control of The B Foundation. This year, Stafford Media Solutions and The Daily News are furthering their support through the sale of ribbons indicating financial support for childhood cancer.
During Belding’s emotional journey of creating The B Foundation, the students and families of the community have watched as young children in each elementary building have fought against a disease that can be difficult to explain to young ears. How do you tell a child that according to the National Cancer Institute, only 1 percent of all funds raised for cancer research are dedicated to eradicating the illness among kids? How do you explain to a third grader that 36 other kids in Michigan are diagnosed with cancer each day? What words do you use to understand the full gravity of 600 young patients attending the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital alone for treatment each month? The average age for children diagnosed with cancer is six. Most 6-year-olds are focused on playgrounds, ice cream and reading skills. Those distractions sound much better than chemotherapy, radiation, and unspeakable pain.
Despite the horrendous economic downturn experienced by those in our area, we continue to be part of a community that cares. The time, talent and treasure allocated to The B Foundation and similar organizations fund smiles, tears of joy and hope for residents in our neighborhoods. As you watch the colors change from yellow to pink, to white, and beyond this fall, remember that your decision to support the community is more than financial. Educating the youngest members of our districts perpetuates a spirit of giving that will fund a future aimed at helping kids think beyond their own circumstance. For more information please visit www.thebfoundation.org.
Michael Ostrander is a board member/secretary of The B Foundation.
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