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Former St. Jude patient Brian Bush believed in miracles, and so does his family – parents Michael and Marge, and sister Aaran.
That’s why the Bush family has held the St. Jude/Brian Bush Memorial Putt-for-Life tournament in Grandville, Michigan, for 25 years as an act of love and gratitude for the care Brian received at St. Jude. Brian lost his battle to cancer on April 1, 1989, at age 15.
A family of love
Michael calls the tournament volunteers “a family of love” and emphasizes that it operates like a mom-and-pop charity with no corporate sponsors. Instead, the tournament has volunteer chair people and family and friends who help make it a success.
“The tournament is about people from different faiths, nationalities and backgrounds coming together to conquer cancer,” says Michael. “Marge and I believe strongly that family is most important.”
Like St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, the Bush family believes that “no child should die in the dawn of life,” and works hard to promote St. Jude through this tournament and other fundraising efforts.
Over the years, they have raised more than $522,000 for St. Jude. At the 25th anniversary of the golf tournament this summer, an additional $25,000 was collected, and more money is coming in.
Brian's St. Jude journey
The Bush family is very close. When Brian and Aaran were young, both children and their father were involved with a clown ministry through the Knights of Columbus – a Roman Catholic fraternal organization. Brian even entertained as a clown when he was a patient at St. Jude.
“That was Brian’s way of releasing some pressure and enjoying life,” says Michael.
Brian was first diagnosed with medulloblastoma at age 9 and was treated locally. He was in remission for four years. A brain tumor surfaced again in 1987, but was found not to be cancerous. In 1988, Brian was diagnosed with a tumor in the pituitary gland, and his doctor used a St. Jude treatment plan for his care and then recommended that the family take him to St. Jude.
Brian’s parents appreciated the care Brian received at St. Jude and were surprised to learn that they would not receive a bill. Through the generous support of donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
The Bush family started the memorial golf tournament the year that Brian died. “Marge and I wanted to give back to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for all that was done for Brian as a patient,” says Michael.
They are grateful for the family and friends who pitch in to help them with their labor of love. “It is really meaningful for us when people do step up to raise funds for St. Jude,” says Marge. “It gives us encouragement to keep going.”