Amanda was a typical 21 year-old on the cusp of graduating college. She spent her days laughing with friends, exploring the West Michigan lakeshore and planning for her future as an architect. However, in October 2009, Amanda’s life came to a halt when she was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a life-threatening blood cancer. She immediately began treatment at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital where her normal activities were replaced with doctor appointments, surgeries and chemotherapy. The intensive treatment left her immune system weak. Unable to interact with friends and loved ones, Amanda felt isolated and lonely. During her weeks at the hospital, she met many other kids fighting for their lives who, like herself, were unable to live a normal life. She dreamed of a place where these kids could go and just be kids.
After successfully battling the cancer, Amanda continued to work as an architect for AMDG Architects in Grand Rapids, but the seeds of the Children’s Healing Center were planted. After five years of gathering community support – and maintaining a full-time job – Amanda was able to finally launch the Center. The Center has become a refuge for kids with weak immune systems and their families, a place where they can play without the fear of germs.
Today, Amanda oversees the strategic direction of the Center and works with its board of directors to ensure its long-term sustainability. In addition to the Center’s six staff members, she oversees the 200+ volunteers who provide interactive programming for the Center’s members.
Amanda’s commitment to serving the community goes beyond the Children’s Healing Center –she is currently serving with at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. Her exemplary leadership and generous spirit have not only gained local recognition and regional awards, but it has also made the impossible possible for hundreds of families – giving sick kids a place to heal and a space to play.