Over Christmas break, beloved varsity soccer coach and middle school teacher, Matt Boersma, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The diagnoses came as a surprise to not only Matt and his family, but also to his students, colleagues, and community who recognize him as a healthy and lively personality. In the wake of the news, Matt’s Eaton Rapids and traveling soccer teams started fundraising efforts to support Matt and his family.

According to athletic director and assistant principal, Jeff Dassance, Matt’s travel soccer team was the first to come up with the idea for a t-shirt fundraiser. Intrigued by the idea, he, along with Eaton Rapids Middle School’s social committee, took action and joined the t-shirt fundraising effort. The Eaton Rapids t-shirts differ slightly in design, displaying the Greyhound logo, but the idea is the same: $15 t-shirts to raise money for gas cards, meals, and more for the Boersma family.

Matt has since started his treatments. Most readers will know secondhand, or personally, the devastating effects of cancer treatments. According to Jeff, however, Matt and his family are choosing to remain optimistic.

“He and his family struggled at first,” said Jeff. “He plans to fight and beat this thing.”

Matt has already set some personal goals since the diagnosis. Remaining optimistic is only an initial objective, but he’s made long term goals like his plan to coach in the fall. The community is choosing to remain optimistic alongside Matt and his family.

“Whenever tragedy like this happens, it brings out the best of the Eaton Rapids community. You see the ‘We are ER’ slogan, and we prove that every chance we get,” said Jeff.

The support has come not only from Eaton Rapids, but from longtime friends of the Boersma family as well. Friends from Haslett, where Matt’s children attend school, have also significantly contributed to the fundraising.

The t-shirt orders were due by Feb. 1, according to Jeff, but he’s certain there are still opportunities to help with the fundraising efforts. He encourages readers and community members who didn’t order a t-shirt to reach out to him, or the Eaton Rapids Middle School social committee.

Cancer has a vicious tendency to target those who we often least expect, and who often least deserve it. Such is the case with Matt Boersma and his family. But it’s the attitude of him and his family, as well as their communities that make the biggest difference in the face of such adversity. It’s often things like t-shirts, or meals, that leave a greater impact on the disease than any medical treatment.