by ANA OLVERA As 11-year-old Maddie Tomasko faces a difficult time in her life, her friends, family and community rally behind her in support. Maddie, a fifth-grader at Crestwood Elementary School, was diagnosed on April 7 with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). According to the National Cancer Institute, AML is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes a large number of abnormal blood cells. Crestwood sent out a press release to students and parents informing them of Maddie’s diagnosis. Maddie left DeVos Children’s Hospital last week Thursday, May 27, after her 50th day of treatment and has a bone marrow transplant pending within the next few weeks. Her stay at the hospital, however, has been one she has been able to enjoy. “If Maddie could describe her stay in one word, it’d be Rhys, her child life specialist,” Maddie’s mom Cheryl Tomasko said. “He’ll spend time with her and take her to the playroom. He keeps it lighthearted and upbeat.” “Maddie is the typical 11-year-old girl who loves life and her friends… even her brothers sometimes,” reads the press release. “Her true love is Hunter, her Brittney Spaniel.” Maddie also has chickens and loves horses. Students keep in touch with Maddie every day by talking with her via Skype, a video chat program, during their recess. Skype was also used during the students’ graduation from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. “We try to take her wherever we go, and technology gives us that opportunity,” said Andrea Zomberg, a teacher at Crestwood. “[Maddie] feels honored. With her fears of being different, it’s been reassuring to still have that contact with her friends. It kind of shows that things haven’t changed, so to speak,” Cheryl said. Crestwood Elementary held different fundraisers every month to help raise money for Relay for Life, beginning with a movie night in January. T-shirts, bracelets, and Airhead candy were sold throughout the fundraising as well. In May, the school held a month-long “Coins for a Cure” competition between all the classrooms. Andrea Zomberg’s fifth-grade class won the “Coins for a Cure” competition. Zomberg motivated her students to donate coins by giving them a calendar of opportunities, such as wearing a hat, reading a magazine during reading time, or […]
by ANA OLVERA For the past 34 years, thousands of runners have participated in the annual Fifth Third River Bank Run, some only once and others continue coming back every year. Dennis Schultz, an affiliate faculty member at the College of Education at Grand Valley State University, has participated in the River Bank Run’s 25k race every year since its start in 1978. Schultz decided to run in the first River Bank Run while working at Forest Hills Northern Middle School after betting the physical education teacher he could finish the race in three hours. He showed up to the run wearing Adidas shoes and expecting to win the bet. Schultz only ran in high school to get in shape for basketball, football and baseball and never participated in track or cross country. “They were just a bunch of boys in underwear, trying to find their pants. That was my mentality,” Schultz said. However, he ended up finishing the race in two hours and 31 minutes, describing his first experience with the run as a “tremendous sense of accomplishment.” “I felt like my body was broken. But the support from other runners and the cooperation made it enjoyable,” Shultz said. He even recalls being asked if he had been in an accident after walking quite gingerly a couple days after the run. Schultz says no real training goes into preparing for the River Bank Run besides running with the North Kent Running Club in Rockford and their track workouts. “They are definitely my support group. They’re very encouraging and they’re probably more proud of the fact that I’ve run the Fifth Third Riverbank Run every year more than I am. There is just phenomenal camaraderie involved,” Schultz said. Another source of support for Schultz is his family, especially his daughters Kelly and Lindsay, who both ran in high school and continue to stay active. Schultz has participated in other marathons throughout the years, but now primarily sticks to the River Bank Run. He also recently postponed a visit to an orthopedic doctor for what may be a torn ligament in his left knee. After being reassured by doctors that running did not contribute to his knee injury, Schultz knew he had to keep his consecutive […]
by ANA OLVERA Every business owner wants their customer to have an unforgettable experience while at their business. But for one Pizzeria Grandé customer, their experience was definitely one-of-a-kind. On Monday, July 5 around 6:40 p.m., a Buick accidentally accelerated into the front of Pizzeria Grandé’s building on Belding Road while trying to move their car, damaging half of the building’s front exterior. “When it happened, I just hoped no one had been hurt. The restaurant was full at the time, but luckily there were no injuries,” Pizzeria Grandé owner Jim Zanzig said. “Oddly enough, there were two Kent County Marine Officers in the restaurant at the time of the accident, so they were able to help out.” After being in business for 10 years, this is the first time Zanzig has experienced anything like this. “It’s not often you see a car go through the front of a building,” Zanzig said. Pizzeria Grandé is still open for business and running its usual hours at 6575 Belding Rd. However, there is a temporary door at the entrance while arrangements for fixing are made.
by ANA OLVERA It is no strange fact that newspapers are indeed suffering in this economy. National newspapers are cutting down on circulation and some have even gone completely online. Some might become discouraged by the turn of events in the world of journalism, but I, on the other hand, embraced these new challenges. Last summer I contacted The Rockford Squire in hopes of acquiring an internship. Out of the three newspapers and one publishing company I contacted, the Squire was the only one who was actually enthusiastic about having an intern. Now, I’m sure plenty of people imagine a newspaper office to be all about desks, computers, whiteboards and frantic fingers typing away in order to meet the week’s deadline. I would be lying if I said my thoughts weren’t just the same. Instead, when I finally began interning at the Squire in September, I found myself surrounded by seven one-of-a-kind personalities. It was a pleasure and joy to work with such energetic, lively and passionate people. Every day I came in, I was greeted with smiles and always met with helping hands. A lot of work-and laughter-was definitely accomplished during my internship. A big concern I had about interning at the Squire was how welcomed I would be by the people of Rockford. Luckily, I was embraced with open arms. It was really neat to learn about the history of Rockford and see how beautiful it truly is. All of the businesses always looked well-kept and clean-not to mention. During my internship, I wrote informative articles, Man on the Streets, and wrote about news in the community. Writing informative and local articles really gave me a sense of belonging in Rockford and helped me learn how to properly write about community news. Man on the Streets were such a joy to write because they allowed me to meet and interact with different people. Although difficult at times to find people who were willing to get their picture taken, it was good practice for other interviews because they were on the spot. I needed to have all the questions ready, be confident, and be able to talk with different kinds of people. I am so thankful and cannot express my gratitude enough to the […]
by ANA OLVERA In honor of the October 17 anniversary of her sister Barbara Liggins’ death from leukemia, Beth O’Donnell of Rockford was motivated to cut and donate her hair to enable children with hair loss a chance to use hers. Liggins of Kalamazoo was diagnosed in May 1991, the same day as her youngest son Gregory’s birthday. She was admitted into the hospital that very same day. Liggins’ sons Greg, Steve and Tim were 6, 8 and 10, respectively, at the time. She passed five months later on October 17 at the age of 37. “My family was great and helped the boys get back up on their feet,” said O’Donnell. “Now they’re three young nice boys.” Liggins had actually made it through chemotherapy. “Our other sister, Carol McCracken, had been Barb’s bone marrow donor, and complications from that transplant is what had actually killed her. She had a hemorrhage in her brain.” explained O’Donnell. “We were hoping she would make it.” Liggins was divorced at the time of her diagnosis, making her death even more painful for her sons. “I can’t imagine being in their position. I just cannot imagine losing a mom at such a young age. After her death, the boys became a lot closer with their dad and were reunited. Thankfully some good did come out of the ordeal,” said O’Donnell. Children with Hair Loss was the best choice because it is “specifically for children, free for those receiving the hair, and it’s local,” O’Donnell explained. Surprisingly, she did not feel any sad emotions while having her hair cut on October 15 at Supercuts in Rockford. “During the holidays we think of Barb, so it is sad. But it’s exciting to remember my sister in such a unique way and celebrate her life instead of being sad,” said O’Donnell. “Two of my sisters had cancer and they both said the worst thing about it was losing their hair. Especially for women and children, it’s an ugly reminder on a day-to-day basis that they are living with cancer,” said O’Donnell. “I encourage others to donate hair if they can stand growing it that long. It doesn’t take a lot to do and it brings joy to those who are not able […]