Story by Liz Magee
Photos by Breanna Bishop
Photo slideshow: http://snack.to/pzpf2ctd
LANSING — On March 31, the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine Department of Pediatrics hosted a Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser for Gabrielle Asher, a 3-year-old girl with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer usually found in infants and children that causes malignant tumors in nerve tissues.
In a polar bear plunge fundraiser, sponsors pledge money for participants who jump into freezing water. The temperature during the plunge was about 35.
Abigail Asher, Gabrielle’s mom, said, “We did this because we want to raise awareness about her type of cancer. It is also fun for people to see her and how well she looks despite the neuroblastoma. And we’re not here just to get money. It is great to have this many people here supporting her.”
The event was organized by Asher’s pediatrician, Kim Mitcham, who thought of the idea after her friend plunged for the Special Olympics and raised a lot of money for it.
“I was not expecting this. The turnout is phenomenal. There was more help then I expected. Every time we had a need, people filled it in without question. Family, friends, a lot of people just reached out and said, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ It was incredibly easy to handle because so many people said they wanted to be a part of this,” Mitcham said.
Along with the plunge there was also a bake sale hosted by the MSU Pediatrics Interest Group and a silent auction. All profits went to the Ashers.
Tina Gwinn, a member of the MSU Pediatric Interest Group, said, “We had a bake sale that raised over $1,000 for the family and we are here, really, to help out in any way they need us to.”
Abigail Asher explained, “You don’t understand until you are in the midst of it, how many children are battling cancer. When you’re not in the midst of it you feel such a detachment from it, and you don’t realize there are so many families dealing with it.”
Mitcham said, “Any person can make a difference and something like cancer makes people feel like there’s nothing they can do to help and I think that everyone here today says that, even if you feel like there is nothing you can do, there is always something to be done. Like here, they are lifting this family up and encouraging them and giving them hope and support. I think that’s huge. I think for a family suffering from this kind of diagnosis, they just need hope.”