Source: Sherman Publications

Community rallies around local boy

by Phil Custodio

February 15, 2012

The community's continued support for local student Ryan Kennedy stuns his mother Kimberly.

“I am incredibly honored,” she said. “To witness not only North Sashabaw Elementary, but the entire Clarkston School District and community step in and help has been overwhelming. The spirit of giving and community you inspire in all of your students is a gift that will serve them well throughout life."

Ryan, fourth grader at North Sashabaw, was diagnosed with cancer in March 2007. Since then, he has had seven surgeries and eighth recurrences.

Teachers, staff, and students at Springfield Plains and North Sashabaw elementary schools, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston Junior High School and Clarkston High School have organized fund raisers over the past five years.

Springfield Elementary students raised $2,600 for Ryan, a two-day school bake sale by fourth graders at North Sashabaw raised $1,027, and a live music fund raiser at Buckshots organized by North Sashabaw Elementary teachers raised more than $10,000.

“In these economic times, I think that’s neat,” said Jill Santola, teacher. “Teachers at all levels have been very supportive.”

Santola and Alena Hall, both NSE teachers, organized the event with teacher Eric Yeloushan, who plays in the band “The Locals.”

“I asked the guys in the band if they wanted to donate proceeds, and they were all for it. They’re a good group,” Yeloushan said.

They asked Jim Mellema, owner of Buckshots in Independence Township, if his restaurant could host the event.

“Why wouldn’t I,” Mellema said. “We do quite a bit for different things – this was a pretty good fit. It was nice to be part of it.”

The Jan. 28 fund raiser was very successful, Hall said.

“It was awesome, the place was packed,” she said. “The highlight was when Ryan walked in. He looked at the crowd and was like, whoa.”

Ryan rode in a limousine decorated inside in red, donated by 24-7 Limousine.

“Red is his favorite color,” Kimberly said.

The funds will be used to help pay for out-of-state hospital care, at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, a CERN Foundation member.

“We don’t know what’s down the road,” she said. "You have no idea what it means to me to be a mother who can be there for her children, in this difficult situation, without having to worry about how we are going to be able to afford the cost. Thank you all so very much.”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 6459 Dixie Highway, will donate 15 percent of sales, Feb. 19-25. Call 248-922-9000. This fund raiser was set up by Springfield Plains Elementary School. Diners need to bring an event flyer or be sure to mention they are there for Ryan’s fundraiser.  

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“I update this page with details of how things are going,” Karp said. “God has truly and richly blessed our family with a community that is amazing, especially in times of difficulty.”