Racing For Kids created its Courageous Kids Award in 2017, to honor youngsters who are dealing with serious medical conditions and challenges with inspirational strength, resolve and determination. What originally was a one-day celebration turned into lifelong relationships for the Grosse Pointe-based international children’s charity.
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 award recipients were Jake Juip and Claire Juip of Grosse Pointe and Falan Becker of River Rouge.
Becker, 11, was born with cerebral palsy and was experiencing a decline in function when her grandmother, Sandy Becker, brought her to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in January. When she was admitted to the in-patient physical therapy program, Becker could not walk or care for herself. After three months of intense therapy, during which she gave it her all, she can now walk with a walker and is able to ride a special Rifton bike around her neighborhood. She has also made excellent speech and communication gains. The physicians and therapists at Children’s Hospital credit her success to her unstinting desire to improve and unrelenting courage in dealing with every issue she encounters.
Jake Juip, 16, and his sister, Claire Juip, 15, both were diagnosed in 2016, with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a rare genetic disease. Their family had noticed Jake was having difficulty maintaining his balance and often tripping. After undergoing genetic testing, his diagnosis was made and further testing revealed Claire also had the condition, 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 junior class president at University Liggett School, where he is the school record holder and state champion for the 100M and 200M wheelchair races in track and field. He also loves performing with the Liggett Players in his school musical.
Claire’s symptoms challenge her ability to run, jump and walk long distances, but she is passionate about science and building her skills to help find a cure for FA. She recently completed a computational biology course with the University of Michigan that will allow her to help researchers conduct statistical analyses. She also plays tennis and volleyball at Liggett, where she is director of business operations for the Liggett Players.
Both Jake and Claire Juip are committed to helping find a cure for FA and are active participants in clinical research, as well as compelling advocates for FA awareness.
“At Racing For Kids, we have been visiting wonderful children like our Courageous Kids for the past 33 years,” said J. Patrick Wright, CEO of Racing For Kids. “Our concerns for ‘our kids’ reflect the overall child healthcare concerns of the Grosse Pointe community. That’s why the Courageous Kids
awards are such a popular part of the Racing For Kids to The Hill events.
“An exceptionally rewarding benefit is that the kids we have honored and their families have become personal friends,” he added. “We stay in touch all year long. They have been our guests at the Detroit Grand Prix and we’ve helped them find solutions to special needs that pop up during the year. We really are a Racing For Kids’ Courageous Kids family.”
Racing For Kids will make $500 donations to the charity of each Courageous Kids’ choice, in the name of this year’s award recipients. Past recipients who attended this year’s ceremony are Dylan Drouillard, Riley Slatterly, Hudson Brown, Matthew Nyenhuis, Kenyon Sims and Payton Shock.