SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — In 2002, a Shelby Township couple lost their son at the age of 30 after a 10-month struggle with cancer. While their son fought in hospitals for eight months, they witnessed the hardships other families dealt with and decided to do something.
Through an annual golf outing that began in 2002 and euchre fundraisers, Jim and Stephanie Langeveld have donated more than $225,000 to a fund established through the University of Michigan to help patients who stay at the university’s cancer center.
Jim’s son, also named Jim, was a family practice physician at Troy Beaumont Hospital who passed away on Sept. 11, 2002, while waiting for a bone marrow transplant, leaving behind his wife and young son.
The Dr. Jim Bone Marrow Transplant Patient Support Fund helps adult patients at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center with personal expenses not covered by insurance.
Dr. Jim’s 11th annual euchre party will take place Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Knights of Columbus Banquet Hall in Utica, located at 44425 Utica Road, west of Van Dyke Avenue and south of M-59.
Check-in will begin at 6 p.m., and euchre will start at 7 p.m. The cost is $25 per person and includes pizza, popcorn and refreshments. There will be cash prizes, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. Participants must be 18 years of age or older and should bring quarters for euchre.
Jim said that his son graduated from his residency at Troy Beaumont Hospital in July 2001 and, in October 2001, had trouble breathing while he was doing his rounds, so he had a chest X-ray while at the hospital.
The X-ray, Jim said, showed a big tumor between his chest wall and lungs, which turned out to be lymphoma. His son, he said, only practiced for five months before he passed away.
“I slept with him all night, so when we were at the University of Michigan and he was on the cancer floor, we saw the hardships cancer patients looking for bone marrow transplants go through,” he said. “It’s a very expensive procedure.”
When patients have a bone marrow transplant, he said, they must stay within a 15-mile radius for 90 days and have a caregiver. Insurance companies don’t usually cover food, lodging and transportation.
Jim and three other men also raise funds at Utica High School football games and use the money to award a $1,500 scholarship each year to a Utica High School graduate pursuing a career in the medical profession.
“The kids are not supposed to go before the parents,” he said. “What got us through is we’re firm believers in God.”
Bob Walz, who attends St. Lawrence Catholic Church with the Langevelds and serves with Jim as a Knight, has attended the euchre party in the past.
“I found it to be a real fun and warm event because the people are very friendly. Euchre can be very competitive, but this is more of a fun-based event,” Walz said. “There’s a lot of people from all over Macomb County. For a night out, it’s pretty inexpensive.”
All of the prizes, he said, are donated, and all of the proceeds benefit the fund.
“I’ve asked myself, if something were to happen to my son after he spent his whole life working so hard to be a doctor, could I pull myself out of the depression I’m sure I would feel to set up and work tirelessly for this charitable organization?” he said. “My heart goes out to Jim and his wife. Wow, to do that is just remarkable.”
To make a donation online, visit www.giving.edu/give/cancer-langeveld. For more information about the fundraiser, call (810) 499-9055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Dr. Jim’s fight with cancer, visit www.tinyurl.com/h38dxwu.