GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A high school hockey coach is riding his bike nearly 300 miles, to Mackinaw City, to raise awareness and money for a family struggling with bills and health problems.
Joel Breazeale is the Grandville hockey coach, the same coach who led the team when co-captain Ryan Fischer passed away from a heart problem in 2014 at age 17.
Breazeale said that the group of teens on that team, including Myles Madden, “this group of young men, we’ve been through so much.”
He saw the Madden family is going through medical and financial stress, and said he thought biking might help.
“We’re a family forever I want them to understand that,” said Breazeale. He left at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and plans to make it to Mackinaw by July 4.
He set up a gofundme.com page, “with the goal of $10,000, with the goal of offsetting at least some of the Madden Family’s ever-increasing medical bills.” He didn’t ask them – he just did it.
“They don’t like a lot of attention drawn to them. They’re humble, hardworking people. They’d rather put their time and their efforts into helping other people, and anyone can attest to that who even knows the Madden family even slightly,” said Breazeale.
Jackie Madden, said through tears, that her gratitude, and the kindness of her neighbors, “it’s beyond words.”
Her husband Paul echoed the sentiment about those who have given generously, “I couldn’t thank them enough, and I don’t even know who most of them are.”
Jackie and Paul have two kids, Myles, the recent Grandville High School and hockey grad, and little sister Brianna. Myles will attend Western Michigan University in the fall, and Brianna is involved in the high school’s music and marching band programs. The whole family is beyond grateful for the more than $8,000 raised on their behalf.
It’s money to help the family through the toughest of times.
Paul is going to lose his job, and his family’s health insurance, July 7. He’s applied for long-term disability but is still waiting to hear if that will be approved. He can’t work because he’s undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. He also had quintuple bypass surgery only 18 months ago.
Jackie has to get expensive shots every three months for a nerve issue.
She said she’s spent so many sleepless nights worrying about everyday things, like where the family was going to live.
She said anything raised by her neighbors is an answer to her prayers.
“Groceries we can buy,” Jackie said, again through tears, when asked what the funds would be used for. “To help pay our necessity things that we need to get by with is huge.”
But now, along with the sense of gratitude, comes a need to pay the kindness forward. The Maddens said they’re used to helping others, not receiving help.
“I told Paul, someday when we’re on our feet, and anyone needs a need like this we’re always there,” said Jackie.
“I mean there are other people in greater need than we are, I’m sure,” Paul said. He said the help is hugely appreciated. “It’s karma, when you give enough [you] will receive. And it doesn’t matter our situation, somebody’s always worse. We try to help others more than ourselves.”