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Tegan Strong

Josh VanDyke • May 3, 2017 at 4:00 AM

For most 11-year-old girls, balancing school and extracurricular activities is the most challenging aspect of their lives. The most stressful part of their week might be asking their parents if their best friend can sleep over or when the family is going to visit Disneyworld.

For Tegan Rose, however, that changed less than a month ago. The local Spring Lake student was diagnosed with leukemia on March 17 and has been battling ever since.

Leukemia is a disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of abnormal blood cells. These suppress the production of normal blood cells, leading to anemia and other symptoms.

This particular strand of leukemia picked the wrong family to mess with, as the Rose family has a long history of grappling their opponents into submission.

Mike Rose, Tegan’s father, was a standout wrestler at Grand Haven High School, and her older brother, Hunter, is currently a high school wrestler and football player at Spring Lake.

“We have a really tight-knit family, so that has made this a lot easier,” said Mike Rose. “We have a strong sports background, and we are all very competitive. We’re just viewing this as a hurdle that is in our way. We know we can overcome this, and we know we will win in the end. It’s stressful, but we’ve got a good attitude about it, and Tegan is a warrior.”

Tegan’s health teacher, Dan Robinson, also doubles as Hunter’s varsity wrestling coach at Spring Lake. When he found out what the Rose family was going through, he decided he wanted to help put an event together.

“I wanted to show my support however I could, so I decided to help put together a fundraiser that involved our current wrestlers and alumni,” said Robinson. “Hunter is a great leader, who always puts in extra work and is there for his teammates. I have no doubt he will also do those things for his family and sister.

“As a teacher of Tegan’s, I can tell you that she is a great kid and a fighter. She will beat this thing. This event is our way to show that when one of our own needs us, we will be there.”

The amount of support that has followed the initial start of the event has been overwhelming to all involved.

“We initially just wanted to do a wrestling event, but everyone in the community started to get involved and it really took on a life of its own,” said Mike Rose. “This has really taught us that we live in such a great, supportive community that is full of good people.

“Coach Robinson epitomizes that. Not only is he a great coach, but he’s someone who actually cares about his students and the people around him. That’s the connection that he brings with the kids. He helped set all this into motion, and the support after that has just been incredible.”

As the owner and operator of Mike Rose Landscape and Irrigation, Rose is used to helping out the community with their needs, so the whole event has really flipped the script on him.

“The hard thing for us is that we’ve always been the givers,” said Rose. “I’m used to helping others in whatever way I can. To have all of this support come our way is really great. It’s just a small example of how special this community really is.

“I’ve always told my kids that if you go that extra mile for someone, sometimes you’ll get that back.”

The Tegan Rose Benefit will be held at Spring Lake High School on Saturday from 7-10 p.m. The price of admission is a donation to the Rose family. Old Boys Brewery in Spring Lake and Jumpin’ Java in Grand Haven are sponsoring the food and refreshments for the event. 

The Spring Lake high school and middle school cheerleaders will also be selling 50/50 raffle tickets at the event.

There will also be a blood drive from 2-8 p.m. at the Spring Lake Aquatic Center. You can sign up to donate at donate.miblood.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/101522.

The wrestling portion of the event, called the “Red and Gray dual” will pit current wrestlers against former alumni. As of Monday, 62 current and former local wrestlers are scheduled to take part in the event — which is headlined by Mike Rose going toe-to-toe with his son, Hunter.

“He’s been staying at the gym a little longer this past week,” joked Mike Rose of his son. “I’m not nervous about it. As the dad, you always think you have the upper hand, but Hunter isn’t too far away. He’s worked really hard over the last few years, and I think he’ll eventually get there. I still think it’s a year or two away, though.”

While he’s excited to compete against his old man, Hunter Rose is more excited to be a part of an event that showcases the strength of his sister.

“She’s been doing great, and she’s always been really tough,” said Hunter. It’s been really surprising how she’s handling all of this. She’s always got a good attitude, and I know she’s going to fight until she wins. She’s really been a inspiration to the entire family.”

If you’d like to help out, the Rose family is accepting donations through Go Fund Me, and those that want to see updates on Tegan’s progress can visit her Caring Bridge page at www.caringbridge.org/visit/teamtegan.

Josh VanDyke is the sports editor at the Grand Haven Tribune. For similar stories, live updates and breaking news, follow him on Twitter: @JoshVanDykeGHT.

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