DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – An event that raises money for a student-run organization that supports families fighting cancer has extra meaning for the organizers the second time around.
The Van Straten family lost Jayma last summer after a courageous battle with brain cancer. They told Local Five News that this year in addition to raising money to fight cancer they hope to honor Jayma’s memory at the event.
“At the end of the day, we know we’re doing something positive to help others and this is about knowing how many families are going to benefit from what we’re doing today,” said Jayma’s husband Dan Van Straten.
Dan renamed the event as the ‘Jayma Van Straten Memorial Ribbon Walk’ this year. It was at the De Pere High School track and all the money raised goes to a student-run high school club (Sting Cancer Club) that does projects throughout the school year to help people fighting cancer.
Jayma worked for the school district for almost two decades and Dan is on the school board and serves as a public address announcer at athletic events.
The event raises money through t-shirt and concession sales and walkers pledge a certain amount of money to donate based on how many laps around the track they complete.
Maddie Rentmeester, president of the ‘Sting Cancer Club at De Pere High School,’ is in college now but returned to the high school track to participate in the event.
“Everybody is affected by cancer, so be there for them and help them any way you can.”
Dan chose 11-year-old Easton Hauser as the grand marshal for the event. Easton has been battling a brain tumor and at one point lost feeling in one side of his body.
“I’m really happy it’s an honor to be here, I think this inspires others,” said Easton.
Easton’s dad told Local Five News that the brain tumor is gone and Easton is doing much better.
“So one of my main words from the hospital was to stay determined that you can do this,” said Easton.
Van Straten said that cancer has touched everybody at the event on Sunday in one way or another. He hopes the event brings families who are all in a similar situation together to spread messages of hope.
“Don’t lose hope, hope is the one thing that nobody can take away,” said Dan Van Straten.
Dan and his kids all have ‘stay positive’ tattoos. They said it’s been one of their mantras throughout Jayma’s battle with cancer and something they’ve fallen back on even when she passed away.
“That positive mindset really drives you and keeps you going, and you have to give that to other people as well,” said Dan Van Straten. “It’s such a negative thing (a cancer diagnosis), but if you stay positive you stay focused and you fight.”
“Whatever happens just believe in yourself that you can do whatever you want to do,” said Easton Hauser.