Written By: Michelle Hilkemann
When “Her View From Home” launched a few years ago, I was so excited and intrigued about the new format reaching out to women like me. From the inspiring stories to healthy recipes, fashion tips to fun contests…it has not disappointed. And each time I see a social media post or log on to the website and read “Her View From Home”, I think to myself “HOME – Where is my home?” When people ask, I say I am from Kearney. This is my home and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But I have another home…my HOME TOWN is Ravenna. It’s very important for me to include both. And after the events of Saturday, May 31, it’s important for me to share with all of you why.
LOVE + SUPPORT = COMMUNITY = HOME
Although I’m not very comfortable talking about myself, I decided I needed to provide a little bit of background. When I was 19 years-old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Throughout my adult life, I’ve been able to manage it with medicine and diet. But in December of 2009, I developed an infection in my colon and needed surgery. A week later, pathology reports came back indicating I had Stage III colorectal cancer. After radiation, chemo, and surgery I was went in to remission a year later. In the Fall of 2012, doctors determined the cancer was back and had spread to my bone. Since then, my family and I have been fighting the fight each day with chemo and radiation.
Some days are great. Some days aren’t. My philosophy is this: When faced with something like Cancer, you have two choices. You can either stay home, feel sorry for yourself, give up, and die. Or you can choose to fight the fight each day and live your life to the absolute fullest. I choose to live my life to the fullest. My new favorite quote: “Today is a good day to have a good day.”
And every day is a good day. Every day, I have people asking what they can do to help. That’s what makes communities like Kearney and Ravenna so amazing. People watch out for everyone else. I love that. It’s important for my family to give back to our communities…and it’s great to see my friends and family doing the same.
So early this year, my Dad and Brother-In-Law said they wanted to hold a Poker Run for me to raise money. I didn’t want them to. Our insurance is good, and we aren’t struggling too bad financially. But their response was that they wanted to do something to help – and that eventually the money would be there if we needed it and it would help reduce stress on the family. How could I say no?
On Saturday, May 31, over 100 motorcycles and countless other vehicles gathered at Chug-A-Lug in Kearney for the Michelle (McKeon) Hilkemann Poker Run. Almost 300 people registered for the Poker Run, and another 100 people or so just showed up at the different locations to join us for a few minutes to socialize, drop off donations, and wish me well. Everyone involved with the Poker Run said it was the biggest Poker Run they had ever seen. This truly made me feel blessed.
And really I am. I am so lucky to be a part of so many great ‘families’ and communities. My HOME TOWN community – friends and family from Ravenna. I saw people on May 31 that I hadn’t seen for 25-30 years! Classmates and friends from so long ago…who still wanted to come out and support my fight. My heart was so full! My only regret…not being able to talk to everyone a little longer!
A new family. My Dad and Brother-In-Law belong to a Motorcycle Riding Group (that I like to call their ‘biker gang’). This group has been amazingly supportive of me and my family. I may not know them all yet very well, but I love them all and would do anything for them.
And then there are my Kearney ‘families’. My military family – the wives I ‘served’ with during our husbands’ deployments overseas. My hockey family – the Storm Housing Families we’ve created an amazing bond with. My work family – everyone from Hilltop Mall and DP Management LLC. My Leadership Kearney family – those I went through the program with and those I met through the program and have created both professional and personal relationships with. And my friends family – all of my friends I’ve met through my kids’ athletic activities or through church or through other mutual friends.
On Saturday, May 31, I truly felt the meaning of LOVE + SUPPORT = COMMUNITY = HOME. I was truly overwhelmed and speechless (which – if you know me – doesn’t happen). And I’m truly grateful for each and every person and business who helped with the event. And because of the support, my family is able to give back…giving a portion of the money raised back to Kearney Tackles Cancer and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation – Nebraska Chapter.
Thank you, Kearney and Ravenna, for being my HOME. Thank you for your love and support.
For more information regarding Crohn’s Disease, visit: www.ccfa.org
For more information regarding Cancer, visit: www.cancer.org
For Michelle’s Caring Bridge Page, visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michellehilkemann/mystory