Ann has been a teacher in the Plymouth-Canton school district for 30 years. She is also the owner of a farm and horse-training business. She has touched thousands of lives with her enthusiastic and tireless efforts in her math classroom as well as on her farm. Her son, Grant, graduated from Canton High School in 2015. Two years ago, Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not wanting to let the disease affect her students, she continued to teach throughout the battle, taking off every other Friday for chemotherapy, being sick all weekend, and returning back to school every Monday. After her treatment was over, the doctors told her the cancer was gone and Ann thought the battle was over. Only two weeks later, she felt dizzy, lost her balance, and returned to the doctor to find that the cancer had spread to her spine and brain. With the new diagnosis Ann is now taking off time from teaching to focus on fighting her cancer. She is also no longer able to work on her horse farm. Grant, her son, has had to give up his college baseball scholarship in order to stay close to his mother during these difficult times. There is a gofundme account dedicated fundraising for Ann to help with her medical expenses: http://www.gofundme.com/missann
When Chris was a sophomore at Central Michigan University, he began to experience double-vision. He had been having headaches and nausea for several years but the doctors felt these symptoms were due to stress, diet or sleep habits. Chris went to the hospital where he underwent a Cat Scan and was found to have a brain tumor. He went through a surgery to have it removed, and recovered fine. A few days later, Chris had to undergo a second, more invasive, surgery to attempt to completely remove the tumor. The tumor was located in his cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and muscle movement. After the surgery, Chris lost some of his physical abilities and is currently in a wheelchair. Chris is a fighter and works very hard at therapy to help him gain back the skills he once had. Overtime he has learned to stand and can walk short distances with his walker. He is greatly supported by his loving, optimistic family.
Sharon is a math teacher and student council adviser at Plymouth High School. She is passionate about her work and never misses a day of school. After school, she stays late offering extra help to her students. In her free time she plays the violin in the Dearborn Symphony orchestra. Recently, Sharon was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She will have to undergo 4 ½ months of chemotherapy, surgery, followed by six weeks of radiation. She is concerned about the amount of school she will have to miss and worries about how it might affect her students. A potential side effect of chemotherapy could be Sharon losing her ability to have feeling in her extremities which could make playing the violin, which she’s played for most of her life, difficult or impossible. Sharon amazingly uses this as inspiration to be positive and stay strong through her treatment. She is in the early stages of breast cancer and has the loving support of her family and friends.
Terri Saenz is the mother of Brandyn and Joshua, two Salem High School graduates. One day herself as well as her family and friends noticed her speech was beginning to slur and suggested she visit the doctor. They assumed Terri had had a stroke, but sadly they were mistaken. In January 2015, Terri was diagnosed with ALS. Currently, there is no cure for this disease, yet Terri continues to fight bravely every day. She is greatly supported by her friends and family.They say she keeps their spirits up with her amazing optimism about her situation. She was very involved with her children’s schools, serving on the PTO boards, as well as being the Vice President of the Plymouth-Canton Music Boosters. Peggy Fenwick, Terri’s best friend, created a website dedicated to her story and helping raise donations for ALS.net. Click here to see the website.
Torrance is currently a student at Ericcson Elementary. He is wheelchair bound and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II. At the age of only 10, Torrance has been through 8 surgeries. He has to use a machine to help him breathe and is fed through a feeding tube. Through all of this, Torrance continues to be so full of life, making everyone around him feel joyous. He even wrote his own book that describes his disease and the troubles he endures every day. His siblings, Tionna, Lavonte, and Aeron, all attend schools in the Plymouth-Canton school district. Torrance’s mother, Katrina, is a paraprofessional in the Cognitively Impaired program at Plymouth High School. On top of everything, Torrance’s father is experiencing kidney failure and had to stop working. He has to go into dialysis three times a week, and is in the process of getting approved for a kidney transplant.
In July 2014 Katie Douglass was diagnosed with a tumor on her vertebrae. After a successful surgery to remove the tumor, and her spine being reinforced with titanium rods, she lost a lot of motion and strength in her hands. After four months of chemotherapy, doctors found a tumor on Katie's liver and a spot on her lung. Thankfuly, the spot on her lung went away. As for the tumor on her liver, doctors decided to remove 55% of her liver. Currently, she is on the road to recovery, and is going through radiation for the tissue around her spine.
Daniel was born in Haiti with a rare autoimmune disorder called HLH. Sarah Parker, Daniels guardian, was a student that attended PCCS schools. She met Daniel's parents on a mission trip in Haiti in 2010. Daniel was born February 2012 and was very ill and due to Haiti's limited medical facilities and supplies. Daniels Dad was having to drive to Red Cross every other day which was a 5 hour road trip to get blood for Daniel. Sometimes they didn't even have any available. Sarah previously raised her family of foster & adopted children in the PCCS school district. Daniel moved to the United States to receive treatment at U of M Mott's Childrens Hospital. Daniel was critically ill and was only able to have an opportunity at survival once he got here. Once here Daniel was unfortunately diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder HLH. Upon diagnosis, Daniel was discharged on hospice care and given 48 hours to live. Daniel surpassed all expectations, and is now three years old. Daniel became stable enough this past year to become eligible for a bone marrow transplant in which he underwent this February. Daniel continues to struggle with some ongoing complications of Graft Vs Host disease which has kept him in the hospital for 2 months. Daniel continues to show that he is a fighter and continues to amaze the doctors at his fight and love to make everyone smile.
Zach Sheehan is a freshman at Plymouth High School. Zach was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This is a form of MD that causes muscles to degenerate over time, taking his ability to walk and move as he pleases. Zach is wheelchair bound and still eager to participate in all aspects of life. He's a regular kid trapped in a body that doesn’t work.
Daisy Watson, who is eight months old, was born with APERT syndrome. APERT syndrom is a rare disorder that only one in every 120,000 people are born with. This disorder causes the sutures of the skull to prematurely fuse together at birth. In addition, her hands and feet are fused together. By the time she is an adult, Daisy will have gone through many skull, hand, and feet surgeries. Within her first year of life, she will have undergone at least five surgeries: two cranial surgeries and three to separate her fingers and toes. Daisy is a strong baby who is facing many challenges.
Macaylah Whitlock was born deaf, with Down Syndrome, a heart defect, and Leukemia. Macaylah is 8 now and has battled cancer her whole life, but her cancer is now in remission! She is currently under medical care reguarding her deafness and has four surgeries planned in the immediate future with ear, nose, and throat specialists. Macaylah is a strong girl who is facing many challenges.
Jerrica Fitzgerald was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a rare medical condition in which fluid builds up in the brain. Jerrica has undergone over 30 surgeries and countless nights in the hospital since she was diagnosed in 2009. She attended Smith Elementary and West Middle school. Jerrica is now a senior at The Park, and is excited to graduate this spring with the rest of her class.
Amy Ladenberger is a 25 year old Park graduate who attended Hoben elementary and Discovery Middle School. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease which causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body, when she was three months old. Within the last year Amy underwent a double lung transplant and many other surgeries prior to that.
Jayden Gohl was born with hydrocephalus, a rare medical condition in which fluid builds up in the brain. Jayden has been through 7 brain surgeries and countless doctors appointments. At 4 years old, he is beating his life expectancy by 3 ½ years. Because Jayden needs to be watched 24/7 his mom cannot work a full-time job and faces challenges in providing for him. With the support from the community through the SJ5K, his mom was able to continually provide for her son.
Erinne Williams was a student at Plymouth High School born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a motor neuron disease similar to ALS. Since her diagnosis Erinne has been through 19 cases of pneumonia, 11 surgeries, and 21 hospitalizations. She is confined to a wheelchair and must use a breathing machine. The SJ5K allowed Erinne to feel the support and love of her community helping her to remain brave and continue the fight for her life.
Max Merget was a Salem High School student who has battled brain cancer since the age of Three. In January 2013, his 10 year cancer free anniversary, Max was diagnosed with brain cancer for the fourth time. Max continued to be optimistic about beating cancer for the fourth time. He created an organization called maxyourbrain.org to help raise money for brain cancer research. The SJ5K supported Max in his fight and helped raise awareness for his own organization.
John Valchine was diagnosed with phase four kidney failure due to Polycystic Kidney Disease and awaited a kidney transplant. After the success of the SJ5K, Mr Valchine was able to receive his kidney transplant and is now improving on a daily basis.
Joanne Savage lost her husband to stage 4 cancer in 2011. Going forward, she struggled to support her three kids as she battled cancer herself. The 2012 SJ5K helped her to continue her brave fight against cancer.
Rick Cigile was put into a wheelchair as a quadriplegic after being overthrown by waves during a vacation in Florida in 2011. The SJ5K helped him work to walk unassisted.