GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For Amanda Shields, a dispatcher for the Grand Rapids Police Department, the news came last Aug. 16.
“I got the phone call that I was now a breast cancer patient. Diagnosed with, at that time, it was stage 2, grade 3, triple negative breast cancer. Which is one of the more aggressive forms,” said Shields.
For Rhiannon Erhardt, the daughter of a Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy, the news came four days earlier, on Aug. 12.
“I’ve been doing chemo from Aug. 30 to Jan. 10. Now I’m on break from that and waiting for surgery, which is tomorrow,” said Erhardt.
Both have a long fight ahead involving surgeries, chemotherapy, and other treatments. Then, there’s the non-medical challenges.
Shields ran out of sick time. That’s when the officers she communicates with every day but rarely sees face to face stepped up.
“They all came together and donated enough sick time to me from their own banks to make sure that I would be OK financially while I fought for my life,” said Shields.
Now, those officers and the public are stepping up again.
Proceeds from the annual Robert Kozminski Memorial Basketball game Saturday night at Kenowa Hills High School will go to support Erhardt and Shields in their battle with breast cancer.
Kozminksi was the Grand Rapids Police officer ambushed by a man with a gun in July of 2007.
Over the years, the annual charity game, which was dedicated to Kozminski after his death, has become a community-wide event.
But the money is only part of what Shields and Erhardt will take away.
“Sometimes you can feel so alone in your experience. But it feels less alone when there’s all these messages coming to you … cards, etc.,” said Erhardt.
“It’s Bobby Kozminski’s legacy. Really, that’s where it all began. And for it to turn into something that we can be part of his legacy is pretty special,” added Shields.
When teams trade their badges and uniforms for t-shirts and tennis shoes, Shields and Erhardt won’t be the only ones benefiting.
“Walking away at the end of the night give us a sense of hope and yes, this community is here to help uplift and support … cause we go through a lot of hard stuff together,” said Kent County Sheriff’s Sergeant Eric Brunner.
Shields and Erhardt hope the game also serves as a reminder to both women and men about the importance of early cancer detection.
“Moles, breast, prostate … everything,” said Erhardt.
“It can happen to you. And when it does, it’s devastating. So the earlier you can find it, get started, the better,” said Shields.
Events tip off at Kenowa Hills High School at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Admission is free.
For more information, visit the event Facebook page.