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Wings Over Muskegon

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Lucy Plont - Family Rallies Around Little Girl With Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis - June 1st Motorcycle Run Planned


The title of the article alone should tell you that it's a pretty rare condition that Lucy Plont is facing.  To know that she's missed too much of kindergarten because of this affliction too, well that tells you that there's a need to be met and when that happens, Muskegon goes to work.  In this case, the work extends over into Sparta too where Lucy's grandparents live and between the two places, there's a lot of great space for motorcycles.....so, let's ride!

From KidsHealth.org - "Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA is a group of disorders that causes arthritis (stiff, swollen, painful joints) in children.  Children with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (systemic JIA) have periods of arthritis along with a fever and rash. They also may have swollen glands and problems with the heart, lungs, and blood.  Treatments can help with symptoms, so children can live a full and active life. The symptoms can go away for a time (called remission). In some kids, the condition goes away permanently.  All types of JIA happen when the immune system, which normally attacks germs, mistakenly attacks the joints. This causes inflammation (swelling and irritation) in the joints and other problems. Systemic JIA can start anytime in kids 1 to 16 years old. Most cases start when a child is around 2 years old. The condition affects boys and girls equally.  Doctors don’t know exactly why kids and teens get JIA. “Idiopathic” means “from an unknown cause.” It can run in families but often does not. It’s likely due to a combination of: genetic (inherited) causes the way the immune system responds to infection and illness a trigger, such as an infection."

As any parents would understand, the onset caught Jodi and Miles Plont completely off guard.  How to handle a problem of such epic proportion and cost in finding out initially what the problem is and then how to treat it.  A grueling task and an immense weight to bare.  While they struggled to find an answer, the staff at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital became very familiar with the Plont family and treatments continue for Lucy to this day.  Lucy will have to give kindergarten another go next year, and that's ok, but the problem will persist for a while and that's where the community will come together to help.

June 1st there's a charity biker benefit which kicks off at 7 Mile Inn on S. Warner in Fremont.  It will be a picturesque ride to Jimmy's Roadhouse, Old Iron Bar and Grill, Kent City Lounge and then back to 7 Mile with cool events along the way.  Registration is at 9a and the bikes roll at 10:45.  When everyone is back at 7 Mile, food, raffles, silent auction, 50/50, gift baskets and more.  It's just the kind of benefit we can all pitch in on in some way shape or form and if you'd like more info on it, you'll find numbers in the photo below. 

Our kids, they are the most important part of all of our future.  Lucy is a tough, spunky little customer according to all accounts, but to see any child facing this kind of struggle, it's too much for anyone to be able to process.  It's a lifelong journey for Lucy and to show her early on that she's from a community that truly cares....it's what we can do.  

You can follow Lucy's journey on Facebook.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT HER PAGE

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Benefit for Brett Belmarez June 29th at the Fruitport Eagles


The most essential part of any line of work is remembering the root system.  In 2015, all that we publish began with a video camera the size of a box of tacks and an idea.  How could we not only help make things in Muskegon a little better, but how could we utilize skills and ability to help anyone's cause get a little notice?  Through that, the idea would be to show the drive of a community.  Show those who take action that there's nothing they can't accomplish and that they deserve that moment in the "spotlight" for their efforts. 

We stand by that today, and it's not always the easiest.  Case in point, our story today.  Brett Belmarez isn't quite 40 yet and has been stricken with cancer.  A young husband and father, Brett is like so many of us here in Muskegon that would give the shirt off his back for someone else, and has more than once but now finds himself in need of the community to gather around him and help.  We found an entry from the Muskegon Pub Pedal site which is helping out too, that explains the situation best.

"Brett Belmarez was born and raised in Muskegon. He has been married to the love of his life, Desiree for 10 1/2 years. They have a 6 year old son named Roman. In the middle of December, 2023, Brett started experiencing flu-like symptoms.  Near the end of December, in addition to the flu-like symptoms, he began experiencing shortness of breath and lung pain. After having his blood work checked and a ct scan, they discovered a mass (6.1cm) on his right lower lung and some enlarged lymph nodes. After a biopsy, it was determined to be lymphoma. It is still early, so they do not have results on what stage or what specific type of lymphoma it is. A meeting is scheduled with the cancer center to begin working towards a treatment plan and obtaining a 2nd opinion with more information from U of M. They are not sure what the future holds, but they are remaining positive and keeping their faith in God."  We've got the pub peddlers in, that's great news. 

Brett also has his family in overdrive working to plan and pull off a benefit at the Fruitport Eagles on June 29th from 2p-8p.  If you've ever been to a benefit at the Fruitport Eagles, you know it's a day filled with family, community and love.  I have been to one or two there and seen the unimaginable happen by witnessing the generosity of friends family and strangers overflow and make a world of difference.  Brett's aunts, Sharon Shanafelt and Victoria Belmarez Brezina joined me to talk about the event.  Take a listen. 

Want to help? We all do, in some way or another.  It's a massive undertaking in a time of immense stress and emotional turmoil for anyone to put on an event like this.  To see it unfolding for Brett speaks volumes of what he must have paid forward already because the ground is rumbling loud for this event and there will be an incredible outpouring come the end of June.  It will be another day when collectively as a community we show the rest of the world that nowhere else can anyone circle the wagons and take care of our own like Muskegon.  

If you'd like to help you can reach out to Victoria at 231-740-1021 or Sharon at 231-769-9799

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Girls Varsity Basketball Coach Brian Packard - Planting Seeds in Fruitport


We were invited to meet an exceptional individual who carries the title Girls Varsity Basketball Coach at Fruitport Schools.  By day, Brian Packard is a Landscape Designer at Mike Rose Landscaping in Norton Shores.  In his "spare time" he's found a calling that not many dare and in that, he's also found a purpose in life well beyond teaching things like dribbling, boxing out and lay up's.  His evolution as a coach, especially working his way up to helping craft young women, has become what movies are made of.  Meet Brian.


Beginning in much lower levels of coaching Brian worked his way up to the varsity role over time and found that's where his fit was best.  It was through experience and dedication that he also realized that there were some pretty remarkable challenges facing these young women at Fruitport and that coaching needed to be a little more than drills.  He was facing a struggling program, the effects of the pandemic and the inability for them to play and practice as well as keep that "teamwork" frame as tight as it should be.  There were also some immensely difficult life challenges for these young women to face with the loss of a classmate and a conference that they play in which is remarkably hard.  Loss, hardship, heartbreak and interruptions....not the key factors in putting up a seasonal record of wins and championships.  With a team of young women who wanted to win, there was a challenge set forth not many would have noticed, but Brian did.

As a team, Brian seemed to help everyone come to the understanding that a team is a perpetual endeavor.  It's a continuance of what was there and what's to come.  What was there...well, honestly, it wasn't much left to build on after all that they had been through collectively.  Brian brought wisdom to the forefront and said that only the understanding that rebuilding the team was going to be equilivant of planting seeds...and that it's going to take the current team, and their willingness to not only get out there and play like champions despite the scoreboard, but more importantly, it was on he and all he coached and saw over to be the foundation for the teams that follow.  Set the example.  Build from the ground floor with the basics and the support that entails the entire person through a sport.  Help the juniors and seniors of today be the leadership that the 7th and 8th graders will see, and emulate when they make it to the "big show" of high school athletics, and then on to life.  

This is a remarkable lesson in leadership that's being provided to an incredibly fortunate group of athletes in a school.  Where some only see trophies and titles, the true nature of competition is bring brought forth day after day and that is to not only achieve but to learn and lead.  To show the way for those to come and to share the understanding of winning in the "long term" is so much more than a buzzer beater.  Fruitport, these young women and our community as a whole....we're lucky to have the depth of understanding we do in people like Brian Packard.  Wisdom carries through generations because of people like him. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Benefit for Kenzie's Be Cafe October 28th at the The Starlight Room


From time to time, and then and again, our Positively Muskegon travels take us outside the county lines, but it's always for a purpose and this one is two fold as we're going to show you something amazing going on in Grand Haven and let you in on a benefit we're pretty dang sure you're going to want to be a part of when you hear all about it.  Welcome to Kenzie's Be Café on Washington in Grand Haven. 

Kenzie is a Junior at Mona Shores High School.  She just happens to have a café named after her "across the bridge" that is owned by her aunt, Erin Lyon.  Erin made a giant career switch not long ago from her chosen path of being an attorney when she saw a chance to get in to something a little more welcoming and less stressful.  She owned a Jumpin Java location, there was a desire to open another one, and the plan was reimagined to build a purposeful and sustainable place where people with different abilities of all levels could find a way to work, learn and see that those "different abilities".....well, they are not all that different after all.

Kenzie and I go back a minute or two.  She's been nothing but an inspiration to me as she fits right in to where she's planted.  Singing Christmas Tree?  She's in it.  Varsity Cheerleader?  Yup.  Life of the party no matter where she goes?  Usually.  What makes Kenzie this way?  Her heart is so gentle, her approach to life is so kind and her willingness to not be anything other than a young woman with a bright future in front of her sends a message that resonates to anyone who meets her.  Naming a spot where others can learn some of the skills that Kenzie has and then go on to succeed in other areas too, it only makes the best of sense. 

Kenzie's Be Café serves all of the proper coffee's and teas, as well as a menu that they have learned to make in house, daily, just like any other spot.  The open feel and the close knit group gives people who sometimes shy away from things because of their "limits" a chance to break right through it and build the confidence needed to go on to much larger endeavors, and they have.  As you hear Erin talk about in the video, some almost unthinkable goals have been attained just by seeing that anything can be accomplished if you are given the chance, no matter the circumstance.

While the café might be just over the county line, Kenzie is quite proudly one of ours, and with that, Muskegon knows how to throw a benefit like no other.  October 28th, there will be a night of music and fun at The Starlight Room.  Kenzie's Be Café will be the beneficiary.  The music is from Rockford's "Puffin Down" who are an outstanding cover band and since we're in The Starlight Room just two days before the party, we'll welcome Puffin Down as the musical guests on the Muskegon Tonight Live show on Thursday the 26th.  A lot of fun to come at The Starlight Room!  Come and join us!   

It's been one of the greatest gift's I have been given to be among people who I will readily admit that at one point, I was uncomfortable around.  To open up just enough though.... to see that differences are what make all of us unique and that the necessity for anyone to just be who they are....it's paramount.  No matter what label may be placed, it can be torn off and the truly remarkable part of the removal of a label....it's the realization that we are all more the same than we are different.  Kenzie teaches that every single time I see her.  A stop into Kenzie's Be Café and you'll see just what I am talking about.  


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Halloween Fun at the Muskegon Lighthouse Saturday Oct 14th


It's something we see yearly, where we live gives us pretty much three perfect seasons of sugar sand beaches and fun for everyone.  Even today as we were filming, a pair of travelers from Indy  were seeking a parking spot to head down to the Muskegon Lighthouse for a view.  I stopped and talked with them for a bit and asked if they'd come back in July sometime, when we could show them a little more. Those three seasons are busy and no one really wants to let go.  Including the Lighthouse itself.

Now staffed by volunteers and always looking to grow that list of people who can spend a little time helping the cause, the Muskegon Lighthouse is boasting one of the most successful seasons on record.  Over 1000 people took the trip to the top to see the stunning view of where we call home from the top of the lighthouse.  The gift shop is now all sold out and packed up, the show fences are on the beach and we'd love to see you at one more event before the snow fly's.. a Halloween Party this Saturday.   

Kimberly Lange invited us down again to sum up the season and throw out the welcome mat for one more great chance at seeing the Muskegon Lighthouse, all done up in Halloween décor inside as a treat for the fans of the ghosting and ghouling that seems to have taken over the entire month of October.  The Muskegon Lighthouse will welcome guests from 1p-4p Saturday October 14th.  Kids in costumes, they get to go to the top of the lighthouse for a peek for free...and adults....a $5 donation is asked.  If you can swing a little more, go ahead.   Costume contests, Halloween treats and a fun atmosphere with a gentle "spooky" approach is what to expect.

The Lighthouse planned the 1-4 on purpose.  It seems that they are not the only ones working to have some fun for the peanut gallery.  The Muskegon Farmers Market will be hosting trick or treaters in the morning while their vendors are on site, the Hackley Library has things Halloween themed for kids to do as does the Lakeshore Museum Center.  Seems that just about everyone is rolling out the red carpet for some spooktacular fun this weekend.

The Muskegon Lighthouse goes in to "winter" mode after this weekend.  It can be opened for private tours in the offseason and the work during the offseason is to recruit more who might like to be involved in 2024 and beyond to help learn about, and share the rich history and splendor of one of the most unique things to our community.  No one hear has to drive from Indianapolis to see a lighthouse!  We can all get behind it and preserve our treasure.


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The Muskegon Magic - Travel Cheerleading Team - Carwash Fundraiser at Wet Wolf Wash Aug 13th


The sport of competitive cheer is an exciting and fun way to keep kids moving and active and doing anything but staring at a screen.  If you've ever seen a competitive cheer competition you know that the energy and drive it takes is incredible.  The focus and team work is second to none and the bond and trust built between the members of the team also leads to friendships that can last a lifetime.  In Muskegon, Gonyons Gymnastics is the base for the Muskegon Magic Competitive Cheer, and they are having a fundraiser.

On Sunday the 13th of August from 2p-5p the Wet Wolf Wash located at 5479 E. Apple will be hosting the kids and families as they make your car sparkle and shine for a hand in some of their team costs.  Roll on up in your Rolls, Beemer, Toyota or Ford and let them put their magic on it at Wet Wolf who are donating their space for the day.  You will also find a bake sale and something quite unique.  They are hosting a shoe drive.  Bring in your gently used shoes and they have an agency that buys them by the pound and then distributes them to developing countries and places where poverty is the main way of life.  Who even knew that was an option for donations?

The team has already brought home some brass from their travels.  Last year in their quests, the trip to Florida yielded a championship and to go back this year to defend it is the goal.  

Team tryouts for the Magic are held at Gonyon's Gymnastics on August 17th and the season runs from September-April.  What a great way to spend the winter months among friends while developing teamwork ethics and keeping physical activity as high as possible.  It's a great group of energetic and fun young people and to be a part of the excitement and fun can begin with a visit for a quick wash on Sunday where you can not only drive off with a clean car and some good baked snacks, you can know for sure you did something great to help some kids and families make the experience of sports as great as it can be.  

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Give Heaven Some Hell Motorcycle Run Remembering Victor Gouveia June 10th


June 10th will be the 2nd Annual "Give Heaven Some Hell" Memorial Ride for a guy who gave to others in a way that was quietly spoken, shown by example and while never preaching "perfection", Victor Gouveia had a way about him that was able to communicate with those who found their way to him to think a little more of themselves and in turn, their lives would be changed by what they saw they could accomplish.  He was "That Guy" to quite a few in his time, and his friends and relatives are keeping that memory and work alive.

The inaugural event was held last year and we met with Catrina Chambers to talk about the life and times of Victor and how he directly impacted her son.  Victor showed him that talent is within all of us, it just needs a little coaxing out to get started but once that spark comes, the limits are removed and what's taught in one aspect of life, can be applied to many others.  Victor taught her son how to work on auto body's, motorcycles and other vehicles.  He also passed along how to mix deep and beautiful paints and work like Rembrandt to help bring visions to life.  Through those lessons, the boy...now a father of 2 himself, learned so much more than how to pull dents and spray paint....he was being taught life by a mentor.  It's a gift that will forever be a part of this young man, and one we can all give.

The first year of the run, well, they raised a whopping $25,000.  I've been around the fundraising world for a while and a first year event doing that kind of work....well, it speaks volumes of the people putting the event on and it speaks volumes to the memory and impact that the namesake of the event is being put on for.  The run itself kicks off at the Grand Haven Walmart, then takes off on a ride through Muskegon County and concludes with a party back on the other side of the bridge at the Hiway!  You'll find food, music, raffles prizes and more at the after party.  Sure, it's what happens at the end of most rides, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Catrina and I joined up at Pomona Park to talk about the first year and what to expect in year two.  If you are in need of a nice ride, filled with purpose, here's the details.


If it's a bike ride you need or to support those who are quietly and without much fanfare or expected accolades giving back to the next generation in more ways than one, this is is the ride for you.  Find the GIVE HEAVEN SOME HELL event page on Facebook for more details and gather up your riding crew to get in on it!  Know that the proceeds will go to help other young people learn a trade and hopefully fall under the mentorship that Victor gave.  We can all agree, the world needs more Victors.