Rockford restaurant hosts benefit for teenage brothers battling cancer

ROCKFORD, Mich. —  A West Michigan community is showing their support for a family hit with cancer twice.

Brothers Brison and Preston Ricker were both diagnosed with cancer just 11 months apart. Brison, 16, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in Jan. 2016. Preston, 13, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Dec.2016.

Medical bills for the Rickers are incredibly expensive and the family says the owe their sons' lives to the donations they've received.

It was a full house at Rockford's Peppermill Grill on Saturday all in support of the Ricker family.

"There's been an awesome turnout," said Kim Ricker, Brison and Preston's mother. "There's been people coming and going all day since it started and they started running out of food and had to go buy more. There's been a lot of takeout orders too, so it looks like it's been a pretty successful event."

Brison was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, while Preston was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that spread to his lymph nodes. Both of their medical bills have largely been paid for with community donations.

"All over surrounding communities have been supporting us and we are so grateful," said Brian Ricker, the teen's father.

"We've spent just over $230,000 at this point just on Brison's medical treatment alone and now his oncologist is not supporting us like he was so we now have to pay for his vascular infusions out of pocket," said Kim Ricker. "That's an additional $5,200 a month on top of the $17,000 we're already spending."

At the Peppermill Grill, they had dinner, a silent auction, t-shirt sales and a bake sale which contributed to roughly $4,000 in donations.

"It's reflective of the community," said Nick Wawee, owner of the Peppermill Grill. "Hopefully it's going to help and help get the family through this."

It's something the Ricker family has seen from communities all over West Michigan.

"Cedar Springs has been amazing," said Kim Ricker. "Ryan is from Rockford and the Rockford community has been amazing. Greenville, Sparta, Comstock Park, it's every surrounding community. It's not just ours. The support has been amazing and without their support we wouldn't be able to do the treatment that we're doing for Brison. It's saving his life."

A Go Fund Me page for the Ricker family has already raised more than $110,000. You can follow along with the teen's progress on their Facebook page.

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