Relay ‘magnetism’ begins Friday at 3 p.m. Relay ‘magnetism’ begins Friday at 3 p.m.

Marine Color Guard walks last year's Relay For Life.

Marine Color Guard walks last year's Relay For Life.

Five City staff to walk 24 hours in honor of officer diagnosed with lymphoma

 

RELAY AWAY—The Marine Color Guard walks last year’s Relay followed by Rockford Firefighters. Above, the Early Bird Running Club gets creative with a coloring/activity book they are selling at Relay. A Rockford keepsake, it features businesses and scenes that are classic Rockford. Also find it at Great Northern Trading Company and around  town.

RELAY AWAY—The Early Bird Running Club gets creative with a coloring/activity book they are selling at Relay. A Rockford keepsake, it features businesses and scenes that are classic Rockford. Also find it at Great Northern Trading Company and around town.

Rockford police officer Ian Graham isn’t sure how long he’ll be at this year’s Relay For Life, which begins at 3 p.m. Friday, May 15. He thinks he’ll still be pretty sick from Wednesday’s chemo treatment.

 

 

BAD ATTITUDE ISN’T AN OPTION—Rockford officer Ian Graham was diagnosed with lymphoma 12 weeks ago. He is pictured here during Rockford Harvest Festival last year with a trick-or-treat ‘officer.’

BAD ATTITUDE ISN’T AN OPTION—Rockford officer Ian Graham was diagnosed with lymphoma 12 weeks ago. He is pictured here during Rockford Harvest Festival last year with a trick-or-treat ‘officer.’

The 30-year-old husband and father of one (with one on the way) was diagnosed 12 weeks ago with Hodgekin’s lymphoma.

 

As a show of support, five co-workers at Rockford City Hall-including City Manager Michael Young-will be 24-hour walkers at Relay. Hired by the Rockford Police Department a year ago, Graham is just one story of many that are represented by the hundreds of people who attend Rockford Relay For Life.

This year will also be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone who desires to become part of cancer-fighting history. Rockford was chosen from over 5,000 communities to help sign up a half million people in a lifetime wellness study. It takes only a few minutes, a little blood and will only be available from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at Relay, which is held at North Rockford Middle School. Dr. Shibler, Rockford school superintendant, will be the first to sign up, Young will be the second.

For Graham, being diagnosed with cancer proved to him how much support is appreciated while fighting the disease. As a newer employee, he didn’t have many sick days. He figured he’d have to take days off following chemo without pay. Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones wouldn’t hear of it. He enlisted City Treasurer Kim McKay to see what could be done. McKay sent out an email asking if other City workers would donate their sick days to Graham. Before the week was out there were 296 hours of sick leave donated to Graham.

Chief Jones said Graham has been able to continue working, only missing days following chemotherapy. “He does his best and he’s in the best of spirits,” Jones said. Graham said he feels optimistic about his prognosis, and being in law enforcement has probably better prepared him than most people to hear they have cancer. “As an officer, we know there may be a day we don’t come home. It’s a thought process we’ve already been through,” he said. The overwhelming support he’s received he didn’t expect. “I really feel honored. You get to a point where you just don’t have words to express how you feel.”

Graham said there is no wake-up call like visiting a cancer center to realize how sick you are-versus how sick you could be. “Attitude is not optional,” Graham said of his optimism. “I could have a bad attitude. I see people who have it so much worse. I’m fighting it, but I’ve seen people who have been fighting it for years.”

Organizer Carol Delp-Korzeja said Relay continues to grow and has raised 1.75 million dollars for the American Cancer Society-before counting this year’s donations. In its seventh year, Relay has the participation of every school in the district and is recognized as one of the most successful Relays in the country.

“It’s the passion. A lot of people have lost their jobs and are still donating money,” she said.

There will be activities all through the 24-hours of Relay. Delp-Korzeja said she hopes to see more survivors during the reception at 10 a.m. and walk at noon on Saturday. All cancer survivors are invited.

            “People that don’t understand Relay have to go once and then they’ll get it. It’s powerful.”

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Local heros honored at Recognition Plaza

A large crowd turned out for the ceremony.

A large crowd turned out for the ceremony.

They are the names you have seen and heard around Rockford as long as you’ve lived here: Kitson, Myers, Krause, Briggs, Blakeslee.

On Tuesday, May 12, the people behind the names were recognized for their role in the history of this community. The Rockford Area Community Endowment had a public ceremony adding the names to the display at Peppler Park at the dam.

 

Clarence Blakeslee, right and family.

Clarence Blakeslee, right and family.

Gerald Leon Kitson, William H. Myers Sr., Otto Krause, Wendall and Donna Briggs and Clarence Blakeslee were those chosen by member communities of the endowment. Honorees from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield were chosen for the lasting, historic difference they have made in the community, as well as for their character.

 

The Endowment was initially formed in the 1960s to finance a school pool and the Towers downtown. It fell dormant after those goals were accomplished and was revived just a few years ago. Among activities of the endowment is honoring community heros and leaders.

Read future issues of the Squire to find out more about each of the honorees.

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Local nurse awarded Arthur Andrews Cup

ESTEEMED AWARD—Dicksie Tremlin proudly shows her Arthur Andrews Cup award.

ESTEEMED AWARD—Dicksie Tremlin proudly shows her Arthur Andrews Cup award.

Dicksie Tremlin, a recent graduate of the Grand Rapids Community College nursing program, was awarded the esteemed Arthur Andrews Cup for graduating with a 4.0 in the associate nursing degree program.

Dicksie graduated from Rockford High School in 1982 and received her cosmetology degree from the Chic University of Cosmetology in Grand Rapids. She was a hair stylist for over 20 years before deciding to go back to school to pursue her dream career in nursing. She is married to Todd Tremlin, who is a professor at Central Michigan University and has three children: Alexandra (20), Kipp (16), and Chancellor (14).

Dicksie graduated from GRCC’s nursing program in December of 2008 and was invited to attend the Delta Pi Alpha Honor Society dinner on April 16. This dinner recognized over 90 honor recipients graduating with superior scholastic achievement. Recipients for this honor are selected from the top five percent of the graduating class. The Arthur Andrews Cup is awarded to one student with the highest GPA and honor points. Dicksie was selected for this award after passing every class in her nursing education with a 4.0.

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D&W intern studies “Sweet Tooth” 101

A PASTRY FEAST FOR THE EYES—D&W Bakery Manager Cindi Wall and Rockford High School intern Erin VanDruen standing in front of the morning’s pastry creations.

A PASTRY FEAST FOR THE EYES—D&W Bakery Manager Cindi Wall and Rockford High School intern Erin VanDruen standing in front of the morning’s pastry creations.

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

About to graduate from Rockford High School this May ’09, hometown girl Erin VanDruen, like all students, was searching for a career path of study for her future life. Erin has always had a love of math and a strong interest in graphic arts. Along those lines Erin, as part of her Rockford High School curriculum, is also attending Kent Career Technical Center studying graphic design.

Recently, in a match that seemed fated, Erin accepted an internship in the bakery department at the Rockford D&W Fresh Market. She could not believe her good fortune when she was assigned specifically to the creation and decoration of pastry goods. 

Erin’s internship was arranged through a co-operative venture with Rockford High School. The high school’s Co-operative Education and Intern Program is under the direction of Mrs. Mary Cody. Cody matches interested high school seniors, during one tri-mester of their senior year, with available internships with area businesses. She seeks to match each student’s demonstrated skills and associated interests to the available positions.  

Erin’s interest in graphic design was a perfect match for pastry design and decoration. And it didn’t hurt any, as Erin says, “I’ve always had a sweet tooth!”

Although other departments at the Rockford D&W Fresh Market have had interns in the past, Erin is the first ever bakery intern. Under the mentorship of bakery department manager Cindi Wall, Erin was assigned the responsibility of the daily maintenance and resupply of the pastry display case. Wall, herself, has 27 years of Bakery experience, all with D&W. Erin could not have hoped for a more experienced tutor. 

Being a Rockford High School intern requires each student to spend 10 hours of his or her school week immersed in his or her assigned internship. Erin loves her placement in the D&W Bakery and the valuable skills she is learning. Erin has taken the 10-hour requirement one-step further, so much so that each morning, Monday through Friday, while it is still dark she arrives at 6:00 a.m. not departing until 8:30 a.m. to head to her day’s schooling at the high school.  Saturday mornings, while not required to be there, she arrives again at 6:00 a.m. and with an enthusiasm that is contagious to all in the department she works the entire morning leaving the store at 11:30 a.m. Talk about 110 percent! 

We mentioned earlier that Erin loves her assignment but it is safe to say that D&W Fresh Market Store Director Char Bouwkamp and Bakery Manager Wall love Erin and her fast study skills and work ethic. 

Time flies on the job for Erin as she creates beautiful designs on the mouth-watering pastries. The internship has been such a revelation to Erin that she has applied to and been accepted to GRCC’s Culinary Arts Program and will begin in the fall in the hopes of graduating with a degree as a pastry chef. 

Through the years, D&W Fresh Market Store Director Bouwkamp has always accepted high school interns to learn valuable retail food store skills while working in various departments in the store. Bouwkamp says, “It’s a win-win for the Rockford School System, the students themselves, and D&W. Indeed, many of them demonstrate such an aptitude that they are offered part-time employment while they continue on to college to further their education. Some find that retail foods gets in their blood and return seeking a full-time career path in the retail food industry.”

In covering this story for the Rockford Squire, we were struck by the quality and selection of the large full-service D&W Bakery Department. It puzzles us that each year residents of Rockford consistently ask for a “bakery” in the annual Rockford City Community Perception Survey. One needs look no further than D&W in the Rockford East Business District. Open seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. in the morning until late at night, the D&W Bakery offers everything from fresh hand-crafted artisan breads to a huge donut and roll selection along with beautifully decorated and custom crafted cakes for all occasions, cupcakes, cookies, and pastries.

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Local musician teaches local residents music, releases CD

MUSICAL STYLIST—Joe Kelly with his favorite guitar.

MUSICAL STYLIST—Joe Kelly with his favorite guitar.

by CHRISTINE BIGNEY

Joe Kelly is an amazing man. No, he probably could not lift 1000 pounds, nor could he perform amazing acrobatics. But he sure can play a mean guitar.

Kelly, who has been teaching music in the Rockford area through various stringed instruments for 40 years, has a passion for the art. “You’re going to get a musical education. But you’re also going to have fun,” Kelly said.

Kelly teaches approximately 40 students weekly on the guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, viola, dobro, and pedal steel guitar. Kelly instructs students between the ages of nine to 70 years of age. “I have some students that I call ‘The Grasshopper Project’ after the protégé in the series Kung Fu. These kids really want to learn something,” Kelly said.

Kelly notes that some kids come in to “show me what they’ve got” by showing off a little bit. “It’s hard to teach them the basics when they want to go right into the hard stuff.”

Kelly believes that his students have to have the knowledge of the chords and the scales. “Notes teach you structure. But the kids want to learn the lics, sound cool in front of their girlfriends,” Kelly said with a smile.

Kelly says the easiest person to teach is one that is grounded: has good parental guidance, and has the physical abilities to play the instrument. “Talent means nothing without hard work.” said Kelly.

Kelly had a life altering experience in 1985. While driving home at 2:00 a.m. after playing a bar gig, a “drunk” woman crossed the center-line and hit Kelly.

After waking up in a hospital room, Kelly said, “the music kept pouring out of me. It’s really exciting! I wake up now, it’s a new day.”

One way Kelly gives hope to people is through his new self-titled CD “Joe Kelly, Child of the Mountains.” The difference in my music is the feeling of it. There is so much cynicism nowadays. My music of hope comes from a different place.

Kelly became a born-again Christian, and began writing inspirational songs, songs of hope. “I worked at Roger’s Department Store for 15 years before it shut down. I recognize the darkness and the bad economic times. I want people to have hope,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s musical style falls somewhere between John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot, a traditional folk-style. “I write a song like a painter. If you sing a song about the West, I want you to feel the wind.”

Kelly lives with his wife Sharon in Rockford. “Being a musician,” Kelly said, “kids weren’t in the cards. But I have all these kids come to me every day, and then they all go home after a half an hour,” he says with a broad grin.

You can hear clips of Joe Kelly’s CD on www.myspace.com/jkellyband, or purchase his CD on CDbaby.net.

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