This October, the Klingel Homes team got the chance to meet some of the leaders of BUCS Pride, Sharon Yonker and Marcie Lynch. Their organization is dedicated to bringing encouragement and support to those in our community who have cancer, or who have lost family members to cancer. We learned about their goals to inspire the community, honor cancer survivors, and give back. They’re focused on creating awareness, and truly being present for people in our community who are going through the trials of cancer.
Their organization partners very closely with the Grand Haven School System, and is particularly involved with the sports teams. Their organization is very unique, in that they work to help the personal needs of each cancer patient or survivor in our community. Not only do they bring gift baskets to newly diagnosed cancer patients, but they also go above and beyond to fulfill the individual needs of each patient. The ladies told us about how they got the GHHS Outdoor Ed Class, and Wrestling Team to go out and chop 3 years worth of firewood for an older lady whose husband passed away from cancer. This organization truly does all it can to help our community. All money donated to BUCS Pride goes directly to people in our area that are battling cancer.
Bucs Pride has created “Purple Fridays”, when the students are encouraged to wear purple, to raise awareness, and show support to those in our community battling cancer. Purple is their organization’s signature color, with the purpose of raising support and awareness for all types of cancer, not just one specific type of cancer. People don’t really get involved with their organization until someone in their family has cancer, so BUCS Pride works hard to inform our community about what they do, so that people know there is support before they need it.
We know that most organizations have areas that they struggle, so we always ask ministries what that area is for them, because we want to know if there are any specific ways that we can help. We learned that for BUCS Pride, getting people to tell them that someone in their family has cancer is a huge struggle. BUCS Pride has strong connections at the school, but not everyone in the community is connected to the school. And sometimes people don’t want to share openly that they are struggling. Marcie works in a medical office, and if people volunteer information, she can ask them if BUCS Pride can help them. But because of HIPAA regulations, BUCS Pride can’t receive information about patients directly from doctors. So a huge way that our community can help, is to get involved, spread the word, and if you know someone with cancer, encourage them to reach out to BUCS Pride!
Another amazing way that BUCS Pride partners with GHHS to help our community, is when the Grand Haven High School does 3 blood drives a year, BUCS Pride does a bone marrow registry drive at the same time. Individuals can only be on the Bone Marrow registry from age 18-44, so partnering with the high school helps to get young people on the registry as soon as possible, to allow for the most potential matches, for as many years as possible. We even learned that contrary to popular belief, it is not painful to donate bone marrow, and you just need to swab your cheek to get on the registry!
We asked the ladies what their favorite moment has been throughout the life of the organization, and Marcie told us “Every year we kept doing the bone marrow drive, and one year, we actually had 4 kids who were possible matches! After they did the second level of testing to determine a perfect match, one student, Carl, turned out to be a perfect match to a cancer patient in need of bone marrow! So Carl, whose mother happened to be a bone marrow nurse, went through the process of donating his bone marrow. It typically takes a year to find out if the donation and transplant was successful, so after about a year they had the opportunity to set up a meeting with the person that he donated his bone marrow to. As their families finally got to meet, they realized that Carl’s mom had been the nurse for the man who received her son’s bone marrow!
When people think of bone marrow donation, they think pain. But now, it’s not even painful to donate bone marrow. It’s not painful to get on the registry, so our students line up to get on the registry! It used to be taken from the hip, but now its just a simple blood draw, which comes out of one arm, cycles through a machine, and then goes right back in the other arm. We talked to Carl right after he donated, and he said the worst part was that he had to sit for 6 hours. He’s an active guy, so that was difficult for him. But the procedure itself was not painful, so because he potentially saved a life, it was totally worth it.”
We were so amazed to hear how involved the GH sports teams are. The basketball, soccer, hockey, and volleyball teams all have purple jerseys they wear for BUCS pride games! For the football team, they even do jersey sponsorship for their big annual “Purple Game”, so parents or community sponsors pay $100 to sponsor a player’s jersey. The sponsor gets to choose a name to put on the jersey, the player will wear the jersey for the Purple Game, and then the sponsor gets to keep the jersey after the game!
If you want to get involved in this amazing organization, join us Friday, October 21st for the GHHS Purple Game at 6:00 PM! There will be a walk to honor those battling cancer, remember those we have lost and those that have won the battle.
There are many other ways you can get involved, event if you can’t attend the Purple Games. Support BUCS Pride and our community by: “Wearing purple on Purple Fridays, donating snacks to be brought to the Johnson’s cancer center on Purple Fridays, volunteering at Bluebird cancer retreats, helping to coordinate their annual Purple Caroling event, volunteering to help at the BUCS Pride store, volunteering to help at Purple sporting events, volunteering to be a school liaison for one of the 9 district schools, being an annual sponsor, or helping to coordinate a Purple sporting event.