CEDAR SPRINGS, MICH. - Zero percent chance survival rate.
That's the diagnosis given by oncologists to children who acquire DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), which is a highly aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumor.
But thanks to several members of the Cedar Springs community, and others from surrounding communities stepping up to help the family with fundraisers, Brison Ricker continues to beat insurmountable odds.
Volunteers have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Ricker family since spring with anything from can drives to music festivals.
"Without all the donations and community support, Brison wouldn't be able to receive the treatment," said Kim Ricker, Brison's mother. "Brison wouldn't be here without this treatment."
A women's group from Rockford heard of Brison's story, and recently decided that wanted to help. The organization is called "100+ Women Who Care." The group of 20 women meets four times a year. At each meeting, members must commit to donating $100, and all the donations will be given to Rockford and surrounding area charities and non-profits.
"At our last meeting, the group discussed Brison, and the financial strain the Ricker family must be facing with medical bills piling up, so we decided to donate to them," said Cassidy Munger, one of the founding members of 100+ Women Who Care. "What the Rickers are facing is exactly why our organization exists."
► Related: Signs of healing – the Brison Ricker story
On Thursday, Sept. 29, Cassidy Munger, along with three members of the group, paid a visit to the Rickers' home to give them a donation of $2,000. Munger approached Frankenmuth Credit Union in Rockford and they decided to match the donation 100+ Women Who Care was giving the Rickers.
"We were so please to tell the Rickers they were receiving $4,000 for Brison," Munger said. "There's no doubt the family can put this money to immediate use toward Brison's treatment."
Brison Ricker, a 15-year old from Cedar Springs, was diagnosed with this form of cancer on Jan. 22, 2016. Brison immediately began undergoing several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, beginning in February and stretching into June.
The Rickers had another MRI in June and it was discovered that Brison's tumor had doubled in size. At that point, doctors told the Rickers there was no more they could do, and advised the family to contact Hospice and try to enjoy the remaining time they have left with Brison. The family decided to take Brison to Texas over the summer and pursue an alternative form of cancer treatment.
On Aug. 10, Brison had another MRI and the results showed that his tumor had shrunk to one-third the size it was in June, which also meant it was smaller than it was when he was diagnosed in January.
"Our oncologist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital [in Grand Rapids, Michigan] told us he'd never seen anything like it," said Kim Ricker. "Brison has continued to show signs of improvement since August. His ability to speak has almost returned, and his strength is returning to a point where he's getting close to being able to walk again.
"None of this would be possible without everything that people have been doing for Brison and our family."
Brison Ricker's next MRI is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 11.
There are four fundraising events for Brison Ricker that are scheduled to unfold in Cedar Springs over the course of the next few weeks.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, is the "Rickerstrong soccer game" at Cedar Springs High School. The boys soccer team, which Brison used to play for. is hosting Greenville. The two schools are doing a face off can drive to see which school can collect the most beverage cans. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a special balloon launch for Brison at halftime of the game. The fundraiser begins at 5 p.m. and will go until at least 9 p.m. All the proceeds will benefit the Ricker family.
Monday, Oct. 10, is another beverage can drive. It's being hosted my the Meijer store in Cedar Springs (3700 17 Mile Rd. NE). The two previous can drives at this location have raised a combined $13,000. One more successful drive and pop cans will literally pay for one month of Brison's expensive treatment. The can drive starts at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15, is the "Team Brison Musical Festival at Skinner Field in Cedar Springs (90 Cedar St. NE). Activities include five hours of live music, dunk tank, horseshoe tournament, corn hole tournament, legged race, cake walk, bake sale, face painting and a silent auction. This event will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. All the proceeds will benefit the Ricker family.
Saturday, Oct. 22, is a dirt bike benefit ride for Brison hosted by "Valley Motocross" (906 S Vickeryville Rd) in Stanton, Michigan. The event starts at 11 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m.. There will be 50/50 raffles, a silent auction, and an open ride. All the proceeds will benefit the Ricker family.
If you're unable to attend any of these fundraising events, you still can help the family. There's a GoFundMe page set up where you can offer a secure donation.
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