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Run, Walk ‘n’ Roll 5K to support pediatric palliative care

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 27, 2019

 Elizabeth Sheeren, 19, a 2018 Grosse Pointe South High School graduate in her cap and gown, has spent a lot of time at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor for the past seven years.

Elizabeth Sheeren, 19, a 2018 Grosse Pointe South High School graduate in her cap and gown, has spent a lot of time at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor for the past seven years.

Photo provided by the Sheeren family

 Elizabeth Sheeren, 19, left, and her sister, Claire Sheeren, 17, pose with their dog, Murphy. They appreciate the community’s support of the Run, Walk ‘n’ Roll 5K fundraiser May 5 at Grosse Pointe South High School to benefit the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Elizabeth Sheeren, 19, left, and her sister, Claire Sheeren, 17, pose with their dog, Murphy. They appreciate the community’s support of the Run, Walk ‘n’ Roll 5K fundraiser May 5 at Grosse Pointe South High School to benefit the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Photo provided by the Sheeren family

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — For the past seven years, Grosse Pointe South High School junior Claire Sheeren has watched her older sister, Elizabeth, battle various autoimmune diseases that have included long stays at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

This past year was especially difficult, as Elizabeth spent a total of seven months on and off in the hospital’s Pediatric Palliative Care Program.

“Her body attacks itself,” Claire, 17, said. “Last year was her senior year of high school. She missed most of her senior year.”

With the support of Claire; mom Julie, dad Chris, and brothers Thomas, 22, and Jack, 21, Elizabeth persevered, earned enough credits to graduate and was accepted to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. However, because of her medical issues, Elizabeth has had to defer her education at this time.

“Through all this, she wants to be a pediatric palliative doctor,” Claire said of her big sister. “She’s incredible. It’s amazing. She’s very positive.”

With so many hospital stays over the years, the family is grateful for the care Elizabeth has received from the Pediatric Palliative Care Program. In an effort to support the medical program — and to honor her big sister — Claire and her friend, Audrey Turner, 16, are holding the first-ever 5K Run, Walk ’n’ Roll fundraiser May 5 at South High School to benefit the Pediatric Palliative Care Program.

“Audrey and I said we have to do something,” said Claire, who likes to play board games with her sister and go out for ice cream when Elizabeth is up for it.

Claire and Audrey, a South junior, have set of goal of raising $10,000.

“It will support the work of the Pediatric Palliative Care Program,” Claire said. “It made me so sad when she was in the hospital so long.”

The Pediatric Palliative Care Program helps families set goals for their child’s care; assists families with decision-making; encourages discussions about the patient’s prognosis; helps families deal with feelings of guilt, anger, powerlessness, frustration and grief; helps them communicate with medical specialists; and more.

Palliative care is a comprehensive approach that focuses on the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

“They help children have a good quality of life,” Claire said.

The 5K Run, Walk ’n’ Roll event is open to anyone and will include a 5-kilometer run and walking course that begins and ends at the South High School track. Claire and Audrey created the name “5K Run, Walk ’n’ Roll” to include runners, walkers, wheelchairs and strollers.

Audrey and Claire have been friends for many years. Audrey also bonded with Elizabeth.

“I always saw her as sweet and really good at conversations. She’s very artistic. For my birthday she made me a special picture with a Bible verse on it. It’s hanging in my room right now,” Audrey said. “I see how strong she is through this. It’s hard to put it into words. Elizabeth is the strongest person I know.”    

“She’s given me a lot of great advice,” Claire said of Elizabeth. “I’ve learned to try to be strong in really tough situations and to know other people are going through difficult times.”

The family’s faith in God also is getting the Sheerens through Elizabeth’s health issues. The family dog, Murphy, also has helped keep spirits high. The pooch even visited Elizabeth when she was hospitalized.

“Murphy knows when she’s not feeling well,” Claire said. “He wants to be there to do what he can.”

The May 5 fundraiser will begin at the South track and stretch through several streets before finishing back at the school. South physical education teacher and track and cross country coach Steve Zaranek is among those helping to make the 5K Run, Walk ’n’ Roll possible.  

“I think it’s going to be a very successful event,” said Zaranek, who has been Claire’s cross country and track coach. “They are a wonderful family. They’re doing this for the right reason.”

“He has been so helpful,” Claire said.     

The entry fee is $30 per runner or walker for those 19 and older, and $25 for participants 18 and younger in advance. The fee will increase $5 on the day of the event.

Individual participants and teams are welcome. Money from the registration fees will benefit the hospital. To register, visit eastsideracing.enmotive.com/events/fundraising/run-walk-n-roll.

Registration is at noon on event day, and the run/walk will begin at 1 p.m. Each participant who completes the online registration by April 28 will be guaranteed a T-shirt in Elizabeth’s favorite color, turquoise. The 5K race is USA Track & Field certified, and light refreshments will be available at the event.

“It’s really beautiful to have a community come together. You’d be surprised at how many people want to help,” Audrey said. “We have had so many moms and dads pitching in.”

Along with the running and walking, Claire and Audrey are working to get a photo booth, face painting and sidewalk chalk.

People also can donate if they cannot attend the event in person. Checks may be made to the Regents of the University of Michigan. South is located at 11 Grosse Pointe Blvd. in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Corporate sponsorships are still available for the event. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, and on the event in general, call (313) 682-8880. “5K Run, Walk n Roll” is on Instagram and has a Facebook page.