Charity 13Forever donates $25,000 to local organizations

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published March 8, 2023

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Shelby Township residents Roy and Carol Townsend lost their son to cancer almost nine years ago, and now they try to help others from having to go through the same thing.

Their 13-year-old son, Justin, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme — brain cancer — in 2013, and he passed away Aug. 7, 2014. Justin was treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

At the beginning of 2022, the Townsends decided to create a charity, 13Forever, to raise money in the fight against pediatric cancer. 13Forever aims to fund cancer research and support local organizations helping in the fight against pediatric cancer.

By the end of 2022, 13Forever hit its first goal of $25,000 for St. Jude, and the charity didn’t stop there.

Roy Townsend, the 13Forever executive director, said the charity decided to host a special event March 7 at Brown Iron Brewhouse in Royal Oak. The event occurred after press time.

“To capitalize on the excitement, 13Forever teamed up with Brown Iron Brewhouse, Dr. Kate (Gowans), a host of our supporters, friends and family to have this Community Care Event on March 7 … to show people where and how their donations are being put to good use,” he said in an email interview. 

March 7 is Justin’s birthday.

“Three organizations will be presented checks for the first time at the 13Forever Community Care Event. Ronald McDonald House Detroit, last year December, received a $2,500 donation. 13Forever Board Members voted to sponsor the RMH Food Pantry for the entire year. RMH will be receiving another check for $3,500 at the event. Royal Oak Beaumont will receive one $10,000 check but divided up to several departments,” he said.

13Forever also sponsored some activities at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. The total amount given to Oakland County and Wayne County charities was $25,000.

Erika Hernandez, the event coordinator at Brown Iron Brewhouse, said Brown Iron Brewhouse was excited to be the location for the event.

“We are excited to be a part of 13Forever Community Cares and participate in the fight against pediatric cancer. It is our mission to be a place for the community to come together through food, great beer and special events. While our employees are the back bones of our business, one of our six pillars focuses on Community. We know that being a part of a community is what makes life worth living. Without our associates, customers and community, we do not exist. Getting the opportunity to take part in such a worthy fundraiser makes us proud to do what we do — and host the unique events that help support the community,” she said in an email.

13Forever is now turning its attention to hitting its next $25,000 giveaway milestone in support of charities in southeast Michigan. 

“I am hoping this event (March 7) will raise awareness for the need to cure pediatric cancer, to develop less invasive and more effective treatments,” Roy Townsend said.

Gowans, the head of pediatric hematology and oncology at Corewell Health East (formerly Beautmont), said their hearts break whenever they lose a patient.

“In the wake of such grief, we are grateful for the generosity of the Townsend family and 13Forever, and admire what they are doing to keep Justin’s memory alive and to support local families who are facing a cancer journey. Their work and this thoughtful donation will have a profound impact on so many of the children and families we care for in southeast Michigan,” she said.

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