The first Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms drew runners and walkers who wanted to support the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The first Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms drew runners and walkers who wanted to support the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Photo provided by Claire Sheeren


Third annual Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K June 19

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 8, 2021

 In 2019, Claire Sheeren, far left, with mom Julie Sheeren, second from left, dad Chris Sheeren, and sister Elizabeth, far right, participated in the first Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms.

In 2019, Claire Sheeren, far left, with mom Julie Sheeren, second from left, dad Chris Sheeren, and sister Elizabeth, far right, participated in the first Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Photo provided by Claire Sheeren

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — The bonds of sisterhood between Claire and Elizabeth Sheeren have proven unshakeable.

Together, the sisters like to play board games, FaceTime each other on their cellphones and talk over ice cream. Both, too, are Grosse Pointe South High School graduates and stayed in touch even when Claire went off to her first year of college in 2020 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

For several years, Elizabeth, 21, has been hospitalized many times at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Since 2012, Elizabeth has battled various autoimmune diseases and has received care through the hospital’s Pediatric Palliative Care Program.

Palliative care works with the patient’s other medical teams with a focus on improving the quality of life of those with chronic and/or terminal diseases. Palliative care focuses on patient comfort by reducing pain and nausea, minimizing hospital stays, and supporting the emotional needs of the child and family. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have to be more careful because of the risks associated with the virus.

Knowing how much the program has helped Elizabeth and the Sheeren Family, which includes mom Julie, dad Chris, and older brothers Thomas and Jack, Claire wanted to find a way to give back. Two years ago, the 19-year-old organized the first Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K to raise money for the Pediatric Palliative Care Program. The first event took place at South in Grosse Pointe Farms, and last year’s fundraiser was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The big thing for me was the opportunity to help them,” Claire said. “I know there’s such a need at Mott.”

The success from the first event paved the way for the establishment of Elizabeth’s Courage Fund to support palliative care at Mott. At press time, the fund has raised over $85,000.

This year’s Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K will be held in person from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 19. The route will begin and finish at Washington Road between Kercheval Avenue and St. Paul Street in Grosse Pointe City. Participants will travel through the neighborhood, including by Elizabeth’s house.

There is also an Ann Arbor route at the same time that starts and finishes at Jack Rabbit, 5700 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Organizers also have a virtual Run, Walk ’n’ Roll option again this year. Participants can raise funds as a team or individually and walk at their own pace. Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome.

People from the local community have already signed up, and there is still time to register at www.run-walk-roll.org. Last year’s event drew virtual participants from around the world, including California, Massachusetts, Scotland, Canada, and Australia.

“I know it’s going to be really special this year,” Claire said. “It’s cool to see how excited people are about it.”

Many local businesses and families also have signed up to be sponsors. Although Claire can’t be in attendance this year because she found a summer job out of state, she has worked tirelessly to organize the third annual event.

Because of her autoimmune issues, Elizabeth takes life one day at a time. Despite her circumstances, she keeps a positive attitude. The family also has a strong faith.

“With COVID, too, it’s been hard,” Claire said. “It’s been much harder having to be more locked down.”

This year’s event will continue to fund the Mood Lifters program, which offers mental and emotional support for parents of children with serious illnesses. Mood Lifters, developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, brings together small groups of parents who discuss strategies to improve their mental health and overall well-being while focusing on their children’s health.

Dr. Kenneth Pituch, the medical director of Mott’s Pediatric Palliative Care Program since 2004, said Mood Lifters began in 2020. The cost to participate is $200 for parents. However, money raised from the annual Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K has been used to offset the costs for families.  Mood Lifters is held in a virtual format.

“It’s been very helpful in getting parents to get mental health support services who are dealing with stress, anxiety and depleted sleep,” said Pituch, who has treated Elizabeth. “It’s been very, very highly rated by parents who have done it.”

This year’s event also will allow hospital staff to implement a medical massage therapy program for patients facing long hospitalizations and for those receiving outpatient care. Medical massage helps with pain, nausea and distress.

“The third thing we’re going to do is expand our music therapy program,” Pituch said. “Details are forthcoming.”

That could include providing music therapy for outpatients. Music therapy is something in which Elizabeth found comfort while in the hospital.

To sign up for the third annual Run, Walk ’n’ Roll 5K or, for sponsorship information, visit www.run-walk-roll.org. Check out the event Instagram page at @runwalknroll and the Facebook page at Run Walk N Roll 5K.

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