‘She’s only 8 and she’s been through hell’

Fundraiser planned for local girl battling leukemia

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published October 9, 2015

 Harrison Township firefighter Kevin DeJaeghere said union members adopted Jade Hanson after learning her story, and the upcoming fundraiser aims to help her family with ongoing medical costs.

Harrison Township firefighter Kevin DeJaeghere said union members adopted Jade Hanson after learning her story, and the upcoming fundraiser aims to help her family with ongoing medical costs.

Photo provided by Kevin D. DeJaeghere

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP/ST. CLAIR SHORES — Members of the Harrison Township Firefighters Union Local 1737 have “adopted” an 8-year-old girl who’s battling leukemia for the third time, and they hope the community will support her and her family through an upcoming childhood leukemia fundraiser.

The fundraiser to assist the family of Jade Hanson, of Harrison Township, will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the VFW Bruce Post 1146, 28404 Jefferson Ave. in St. Clair Shores. Tickets cost $25 per person, and the cost includes a cash bar, silent auction and 50/50 raffle. There will also be food and snacks available for sale, and Soul Provider will be performing live.

Harrison Township firefighter Kevin DeJaeghere said union members adopted Jade after learning her story, and the upcoming fundraiser aims to help her family with ongoing medical costs.

“We as a union are doing what we can to round up donations in the form of money and raffle items to bring to her benefit dinner,” said DeJaeghere. “We are making a monetary donation on behalf of the union, in addition to securing food and raffle items.

“She’s only 8 and she’s been through hell,” he said.

Jade was first diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2. She went through two years of radiation and chemotherapy. She was in remission for a year when she relapsed and had to go through another two years of radiation and chemotherapy.

Her grandfather, Geoff Watz, said Jade and her parents moved to Michigan in August 2014 after his son, Kurt, completed eight years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Jade’s mom is Vanessa.

“For the first time, last year she was able to attend school, and she did almost the entire year except for some days she missed (for weekly treatments),” said Watz, adding that she received tutoring during her lengthy hospital stays. “Her hair started to grow back again while she was in what they called a ‘maintenance phase,’ and her demeanor really began to change.”

Then in July 2015, cancer again was found, this time in her spinal fluid, and the radiation and chemotherapy treatments commenced for a third time. Watz said once the cancer is killed, Jade will undergo a bone marrow transplant, which is tentatively scheduled for November. He said a match has already been found.

Watz said it’s been a roller coaster ride for the family over the past six years.

“It’s been tough on her and it’s been tough on her parents,” he said. “This is a risky operation. And the survival rate after the third diagnosis is low. Jade was so happy that her hair had grown back again, and they had to shave it off again yesterday.”

Watz said the fundraiser will be a tremendous help to Jade’s family, as they have been struggling both emotionally and financially. He said the fire union’s involvement and what they have planned for Jade is a blessing.

DeJaeghere said Jade is invited to the union’s annual Donuts with Santa event in December, and they plan to provide her with a Christmas through their giving tree program. The union also secured a spot for Jade in their Shop with a Hero event, sponsored by Meijer. 

Tickets to the childhood leukemia fundraiser are available in advance or at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling Geoff Watz at (586) 441-9519. For more information, call (586) 778-1146.

Those who want to help can also donate to Jade’s GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/2ja2ya8hg8.

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