Racing For Kids created its Courageous Kids award in 2017, to honor young people who face serious medical conditions and challenges with inspiring strength, resolve and determination. What was originally a one-day celebration has turned into lifelong relationships for the international children’s charity based in Grosse Pointe.
This year was no different as three outstanding new Courageous Kids were honored at the 16th annual Racing For Kids to The Hill event. This year’s winners were Jake Juip and Claire Juip from Grosse Pointe and Falan Becker from River Rouge.
Becker, 11, was born with cerebral palsy and was experiencing a decline in function when her grandmother, Sandy Becker, brought her to Michigan Children’s Hospital in January. When she was admitted to the inpatient physical therapy program, Becker could not walk or take care of herself. After three months of intense therapy, during which she gave it her all, she can now walk with a walker and ride the Rifton Special Bike around her neighborhood. She has also made excellent progress in speech and communication. Doctors and therapists at Children’s Hospital attribute her success to her unwavering desire to improve herself and her unwavering courage in the face of any problems she encounters.
Jake Juip, 16, and his sister, Claire Juip, 15, were both diagnosed in 2016 with Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare genetic condition. Their family had noticed that Jake struggled to maintain his balance and stumbled often. After undergoing genetic testing, her diagnosis was made and further testing revealed that Claire also had the disease, although her symptoms were less pronounced.
Freidreich’s ataxia has no treatment and no cure. Jake now uses a wheelchair full time, but has adapted to these significant challenges with resilience and a positive attitude. He is the junior class president at University Liggett School, where he is the school record holder and state champion in the 100m and 200m wheelchair races in track and field. He also enjoys performing with the Liggett Players in his school musical.
Claire’s symptoms test her ability to run, jump and walk long distances, but she is passionate about science and developing her skills to help find a cure for FA. She recently completed a computational biology course at the University of Michigan that will allow her to help researchers perform statistical analyses. She also plays tennis and volleyball at Liggett, where she is Director of Business Operations for the Liggett Players.
Jake and Claire Juip are committed to helping find a cure for FA and are active participants in clinical research, as well as strong advocates for FA awareness.
“At Racing For Kids, we’ve been visiting wonderful kids like our Courageous Kids for 33 years,” said J. Patrick Wright, CEO of Racing For Kids. “Our concerns for “our children” reflect the overall child health concerns of the community of Grosse Pointe. That’s why brave children
Prizes are such a popular part of Racing For Kids to The Hill events.
“An exceptionally gratifying benefit is that the children we have honored and their families have become personal friends,” he added. “We stay in touch all year round. They were our guests at the Detroit Grand Prix and we helped them find solutions to special needs that arise throughout the year. We are truly a Courageous Kids family of Racing For Kids.
Racing For Kids will donate $500 to the charity of each Courageous Kids choice, on behalf of this year’s winners. Past recipients who attended this year’s ceremony include Dylan Drouillard, Riley Slatterly, Hudson Brown, Matthew Nyenhuis, Kenyon Sims and Payton Shock.
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