Ross Campuses in Roosevelt Park and Kentwood Raise Awareness for Childhood Cancer

michaelajoy Campus Events, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Roosevelt Park

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September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was observed in a big way by the staff, students, and faculty at the Roosevelt Park campus of Ross Medical Education Center. To make the impact even larger, they joined the Ross Kentwood campus in a huge kickoff to the month-long events that culminated on September 30th at the end of the toy drive. Childhood cancer is something that hit home to the Roosevelt Park campus as it is something that both Campus Director Lisa Picard and Career Services Student Services Representative Amanda Holman have experienced in their own families. Lisa lost her five year old nephew in January and Amanda’s son was a cancer victim turned survivor when he was declared as in remission during the month!

All of the events this month began with Lisa visiting the Kentwood campus as she presented the kick off presentation to the students. While at the campus, Lisa publically challenged Campus Director Andrea Heckenmueller to a competition between the campuses. They decided to see which campus could get the most toys donated, and they then agreed that the loser would have to take a pie in the face.

Throughout the month, students, community members, and local support agencies like Elite Property Management, Family Friends Veterinarians, Trinity Health employees, and NAPA Auto Parts all brought in donations one by one. Students at the campuses had weekly educational presentations and guest speakers as they became educated on childhood cancer. They not only learned about the disease, but also about the impact it has on the families of the victims. “As students entering the healthcare field, we believe that this is hard reality that the students may at some time have to face regardless of the program in which they are enrolled,” shared Lisa.

Bringing real life stories and being able to share in those stories and meet the families affected was an experience that many students will never forget. Lisa Picard stated, “this was an emotional month for both the students and me as we shared the stories of those children and families that are suffering as well as those that have passed away.” In fact, the morning Medical Assistant class in Roosevelt Park was so moved by the presentations that they wanted to do something special. They chose to design a shirt specific to the event that each student wore every Thursday in September. Lisa continued, “it was great to see such commitment from staff and students and a total campus engagement.”

Toy donations were accepted throughout the month up until the event day where they were donated to a local non-profit named Team Keegan. This organization puts these toys into “treasure chests” and then presents them to children inflicted with cancer. Two young local boys who were friends, Gavin Sima and Oscar Brocca III, passed away from cancer and the donations were given to Team Keegan in their honor. This event was shared on Facebook with over 1700 shared invites, prospects were invited to attend, and flyers were distributed throughout the community. Lisa Picard was invited to visit 103.7 “The Beat” to talk about Ross and the event during a 15 minute interview the day prior.

When the big day finally came, both campuses were proud to hold their “Childhood Cancer Awareness Event” and were thrilled to be able to present Team Keegan with over 8500 toys. The night started with “Be a Match” coming to the campus for a bone marrow donation drive where they successfully registered 40 new people into the registry. Amanda Holman presented the group with an overview of what Roosevelt Park had accomplished as a campus in terms of Childhood Cancer Awareness as she shared her journey with her son Joshua with the guests. Jennifer Moses, a Medical Assistant student, spoke in appreciation to the families of Keegan, Gavin, and Oscar naming them also as heroes as Lisa Picard, Campus Director, and Kristin Hill, another Medical Assistant student, presented the families with a gift. Jennifer Moses shared, “I have three children of my own and I cannot imagine this happening to one of my own kids. I felt in my heart like I should do something. I wanted to be involved because this needs more attention and awareness. I just needed to do something!”

September 30th just happened to be the 14th birthday of Keegan and would have been Oscar’s sixth birthday. In addition it was also what would have been Gavin’s eighth birthday on the 22nd. The campuses celebrated the birthdays of these three boys as we presented each family with an individual cake with candles and their names on them and sang Happy Birthday. Immediately following, Joshua Holman, the son of Ross’ Amanda Holman, who was recently declared as in remission, led the group in a balloon release supporting the fighters, survivors, and those children taken way too soon.

To end the night, the Kentwood Campus Director, Andrea Heckenmueller, and the Roosevelt Park Assistant Campus Director of Education, Rhiannon Daszko, received their pie in the face from Roosevelt Park Campus Director, Lisa Picard. Team Andrea had collected 1400 toys, Team Rhiannon collected 2314, and Team Lisa collected 4802! Toni Hamilton, Career Services Representative, and Lisa Picard both also decided to be pied in the face by the siblings of Gavin, Oscar, and Hunter, three children that had lost their battles with cancer, to end the evening. After receiving pie and cake in the face, everyone in attendance was welcomed back into the campus for refreshments as the staff packed up and loaded 3 vehicles full of toys to Team Keegan. MLive and WZZM 13 both covered the event.