Cancer survivor holds Strike Out Cancer fundraiser Saturday

Thomas Sikkema with one of his patients Bekah Skrycki, 4, at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. (Jan. 24, 2017)

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Valley State University nursing student who survived a rare form of brain cancer is now raising money to help children in West Michigan fighting life-threatening diseases.

Thomas Sikkema is the organizer for the Strike Out Cancer baseball and softball tournament.

He’s also a nursing technician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He works on the ninth floor, where children as young as a month are treated for serious blood and cancer-related conditions.

Sikkema told 24 Hour News 8 in January that he decided he’d work to fight pediatric cancer and other diseases after his own battle with cancer at the age of 17.

Sikkema noticed double vision and other symptoms during a baseball tournament in 2013. Then came the diagnosis: a rare form of brain cancer.

It took months in the hospital, but doctors were able to successfully treat Sikkema.

Since then, he’s organized the Strike Out Cancer high school baseball tournament.

“I actually get to take something that was the worst part of my life and make something out of it,” the Hudsonville High School graduate said.

The money raised during the event will go to Milan’s Miracle Fund, a nonprofit created by a Grand Rapids mother who lost her daughter to a rare brain tumor.

The funds will help with local pediatric cancer research and awareness.

“This tournament really means a lot to me,” Sikkema told 24 Hour News 8. “I get to turn something like cancer, which is extremely negative, into something that is extremely positive.”

Hudsonville High School is hosting the tournament, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Baldwin Street Athletic Complex. All spectators are welcome and there will also be free family activities.

However, Sikkema says you don’t have to attend to help the group reach its fundraising goal, which they are thousands of dollars away from reaching. To donate, visit the website for Milan’s Miracle Fund or the event’s GoFundMe page.

***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the fundraiser. This has since been corrected.***