Zeeland rallies around teacher, family with health issues

Timmer family
An undated courtesy photo of the Timmer family.

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — As a Zeeland teacher battles breast cancer, her two young sons have health concerns of their own. Now the community is stepping up to the plate to show Jennifer Timmer how much they care.

The idea came from one of her former students and started small.

“Just getting the T-shirts and after that the ball kept rolling,” said Allison Sterken. “Now it’s turning into a big fundraiser.”

Sterken, a Zeeland East High School senior, is on the softball team. When she learned about “Team Timmer” shirts for sale to raise money for the family, she thought she would buy some for the team to wear at a game. Then she had another idea.

“I said, ‘Mom, why don’t we do a benefit softball game?'” Sterken said.

Timmer was Sterken’s third grade teacher and the two have kept in touch over the years.

“She was just so happy in class and she was my all-time favorite teacher and I can still say that to this day as a senior,” she said.

Timmer has been dealing with a lot in the last few years. Her youngest son, who was adopted from China, has a congenital heart defect. Her oldest son has epilepsy. A couple months ago, Timmer was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It’s difficult to go through one and having three out of the four (people in your family) go through something like that,” Sterken said. “I wish I could take their place.”

The family is not in financial trouble and is managing the medical costs. Still, Sterken wanted to do something to show community support.

“Any money is awesome because we are helping them in some way,” she said.

The game is free. There will be a raffle, 50/50 drawing and a batting challenge to raise funds. About a dozen local business have already donated money for the raffle.

“It’s cool to see the community giving back,” Sterken said.

The benefit doubleheader is Friday at Zeeland East. It starts at 4 p.m.