Despite receiving a dousing, this year’s Relay for Life participants stuck it out for the 24-hour event held May 22 and 23 at North Rockford Middle School. With money still being counted, by the end of the event, the total for Relay 2010 stood at $340,000, even higher than last year’s tally at that time. With the rain failing to dampen enthusiasm for this, the eighth-annual Relay in Rockford, participants enjoyed the around-the-clock activities. Twenty-four-hour walkers, such as Jason Cavner, in his fourth year doing the long walk, said hot weather is the worst. He walks for his uncle, who is fighting cancer. Eighty-one teams participated, and the top three in fund raising were Terminatin’ Cancer, Friends for Life and Desperate Housewives. Five Relay awards were given. Pam Jacobs of Team Coo, Sloan Ouellette, age 16, of team Kids Care Too, Carson Banfield, age 10, of Kids Care Too, Lisa Morgan, of Braced for a Cure and Abby Larva, of the Spartan Striders, were all recognized for their efforts. Highest individual fund raiser was Nikki Butinsack with $10,800. Organizer Carol Delp-Kurzeja said, “Ideally, our children should not have to worry about chemotherapy, radiation and tumor removal surgeries. Prevention of the disease is the long term objective, but we’ll certainly take a cure after the diagnosis. Right now, we simply want cancer survivors to have many more birthdays ahead of them.” “So far, we have accomplished that objective. Now, with the community of Rockford’s’ help, we can achieve our ultimate goal of eliminating cancer from our vocabulary.”
May 27 2010
by M. SOLLE No matter what your view of the United States Armed Forces, as Memorial Day approaches and we pause to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can have our freedom, let us not forget those who are still fighting to preserve those freedoms for us and for future generations of Americans. Belmont resident Ellen Schmuker never forgets. Imagine you are a soldier returning from an 18-month deployment in the desert. Imagine you are a soldier who saw things most people would have nightmares about and can’t comprehend. Imagine you are a soldier returning home to West Michigan and no one greets you at the airport when you arrive—no one. Imagine your thoughts as that soldier. Now, imagine you are soldier returning home to West Michigan late at night—you are tired, sore, and just want to sleep in a warm bed. Imagine your surprise to find yourself greeted by strangers, dozens of them, all of whom just want to say “thank you” for defending our country and risking your life in the process. Imagine it. Schmuker, a married mother of two, makes that image happen on a regular basis. Schmuker heads Hats Off to Service Members, a local organization that provides memorable homecomings to area soldiers and prides itself in recognizing area soldiers both at home and abroad. She finds volunteers to make signs, stuff gift baskets full of goods from area merchants, and greet those men and women of the Armed Services, who risk their life for our personal freedom. It’s a thankless job, but as Schmuker says, “It’s the least I can do. If I don’t do this, who will?” Not only does Hats Off provide bags to soldiers as they return, but it also puts together bags for troops as they deploy and deals directly with chaplains who e-mail Schmuker to let her know what soldiers need at their remote outposts where creature comforts are few and far between. Schmuker has many stories about her experiences doing what she feels is her duty as a citizen of the United States. She says often she just hangs out at the Gerald R. Ford Airport waiting and hoping a soldier is on a flight, hoping she and her group of […]
A girl in the Bella Vista lakefront home at 7105 Camino Del Ray wondered if birthday candles were burning when she smelled something odd. It was her 13th birthday that Wednesday, May 19. Later, at about 3 p.m., her brother ran up from the water where he had been boating and yelled at the girl and her friend to leave the house—it was on fire. There was damage to the lakeside of the home, but Cannon Township firefighers extinguished the blaze with the help of the Rockford Fire Department. One resident was treated at the scene by Rockford Ambulance EMTs for smoke inhalation. It is suspected that an air conditioner may have started the fire. The family dog was also safely removed from the home and waited in the boat while rescue workers helped the family.
Laurie Tieman works at Wild Birds Unlimited during the day, but this animal lover proved she considers protecting our feathered friends a full-time job. Tieman was having lunch in the lovely outside eating area at Timbers Inn recently. She had been enjoying watching an American robin build a nest and then settle in to brood her eggs. On that afternoon she saw a man treating shrubs near the nest with a chemical insecticide. “I told him about the robin, but he said he’d been instructed to treat all the bushes,” Tieman stated. The owner of the business was in a meeting and couldn’t be interrupted. Tieman had a decision to make. “I stood in front of the nest and crossed my arms and said ‘Go ahead and call the cops. I’m not moving,’” Tieman explained. A tale with a happy ending, the potential conflict was resolved when owner Dean Juth came out after his meeting and told Tieman she did exactly the right thing. “Dean is at peace with nature,” Tieman said. Juth said he welcomes birds to his seating area, and a fountain attracts plenty. He said the setting is very natural, especially when the grasses get tall and provide a cozy backdrop to dining. He is mindful of the benefits of nature and has an herb garden nearby where he grows fresh herbs for use in the restaurant. “We’ve seen eagles back here,” Juth said. Tieman said she looks forward to seeing the robins hatch and hopes others will take care when using pesticides. In this case the tree was treated at the roots, just as effective and with no affect on the bird. Tieman said standing up for the robin is not out of character for her. With co-workers at Outdoor Birds Unlimited, she refers to spring as “turtle rescue season.” Turtles seeking mates and new habitat are notorious for crossing roads in spring and she has rescued plenty. Once she stopped traffic on Northland Drive in front of her store because a duck was leading her brood across the busy street. Hoping to set an example to others, Tieman said people can often help their feathered friends. It is an old wives tale that you can’t touch a baby bird or […]
Rockford is known for having very qualified teachers. One graduate has proven that Rockford produces very qualified teachers as well. Kristin Spoelstra-Schutte, 1989 RHS graduate, has been chosen by the Kent County Education Association as Teacher of the Year. Kristin teaches at Lowell High School. She was recognized for this honor at the Kent County Education Association 28th annual spring awards banquet held May 4.