GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Kids battling cancer in West Michigan got the experience of a lifetime on the lakeshore thanks to two local non-profits.
"I've only been on a boat once and I'm really excited," said 8-year-old Kellen Nykamp.
Nykamp was one of 15 kids and families that got the chance to ride speed boats on Lake Michigan Friday afternoon for West Michigan Offshore's Rock The Coast event. Leaving from the Grand Haven Municipal Marina, it was an experience for the group Shields of Hope, and for who they call their "cancer warriors."
"It's something to experience other than the hospital life that they're used to," said Chad Lynema, President of Shields of Hope. "It's a chance for them to forget about cancer, and for the parents to forget about the financial part of it."
Shields of Hope is a volunteer group with an executive board made up of police, fire, and EMS who work to support families affected by cancer all around West Michigan.
"It's a wonderful organization that supports cancer survivors that are going through it and post-treatment," said Joe Skrycki, whose 9-year-old daughter Bekah has battled leukemia since she was nine. "It's just a great support structure for us and for the kids."
And the event was also thanks to West Michigan Offshore who donated more than just their fast boats.
"The members are really passionate about giving back to the community, so they donate a lot of their time and money," said Board Member Sophia Conroy. "They really have a passion for boating and a fuel to give back."
Throughout the weekend, West Michigan Offshore is hoping to raise up to $10,000 for Shields of Hope. On Friday is the Keith Holmes Memorial Run, Saturday the Rock The Coast Great Sticker Poker Run, and Sunday they call "Sunday Funday."
You can see a full list of events and ways to donate by clicking here.
And it's all to continue supporting kids like Kellen Nykamp, and 9-year-old Bekah Skrycki, who was diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia when she was just three.
"We thought she had gone into remission and then about a year later she came out of remission and needed a bone marrow transplant," said her father, Joe. "She's gone through a lot, and she's been wonderful through it all."
And for both organizations, they said all the hard work pays off when they see kids this excited.
"Thank you," said Bekah.
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