GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – Those along the lake shore were treated to quite a spectacle Saturday afternoon, as over 90 of West Michigan’s fastest and most unique powerboats cruised down the shoreline at lightning speed.
But aboard one of those boats was a very special, very brave young man. In December 2015, 12-year-old Brooks Kingma was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. An avid boating fanatic and lifelong resident of the lake shore area, Brooks had dreamed of stepping aboard one of the powerful machines for as long as he could remember.
“I’ve been interested in it for a long time,” he said. “It was awesome, I love going that fast.”
The ride came about thanks in equal parts to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and West Michigan Offshore. While he was still in treatment, Brooks and his family had contacted Make-A-Wish, a partner organization with WMO. After hearing about Brooks and inviting him to speak at one of their events, WMO chairman Chris Dekker took it a step further.
“When he came we asked him a couple questions about power boating and you could see he just lit up immediately and we knew then that we had to get him on a boat,” said Dekker. “I wanted to show our members in West Michigan Offshore exactly what Make-A-Wish does and how powerful each dollar is.”
So, after months of hospital stays, chemotherapy and radiation, on Saturday Brooks finally got to fulfill his dream of racing across the Lake Michigan water at close to 100 miles per hour.
“I could do it every weekend,” said Brooks. “I wanted to get some air.”
Despite relatively flat conditions this weekend, Brooks said he had the time of his life. And for Dekker and his fellow WMO members, it was a sound reminder that boating can be used for much more than just having a good time.
“People see it as a larger good instead of just going boating, consuming lots of gas, and going home,” Dekker said. “We’re actually giving, and trying to change the world for a better place.”