Grayling wrestler honors grandfather with cancer research fundraising effort
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Wrestlers across the country, including one that goes to school in Grayling, are trying to “pin cancer” through an online fundraising campaign, generating more than $110,000 for cancer research during the most recent effort.
The “Pin Cancer: Wrestle For A Cure” initiative for 2017 had a goal of raising $100,000, according to an individual fundraising page created by Shelby Thomas, a local student and wrestler, and her mother, Stacey Shelp, who works for Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. This year’s Pin Cancer: Wrestle For A Cure – a national effort – had exceeded its goal by more than $12,000 as of Monday, May 1.
Thomas, a 7th grader at Grayling Middle School, started the individual fundraising effort after her grandfather passed away from cancer earlier this year.
“I’d like to help save people and help people just like my grandpa would. Fighting cancer will make me want to push and work even harder for my grandpa and everyone else who is fighting,” Thomas says on her fundraising page at getinvolved.pincancer.org.
Thomas started wrestling in 6th grade. She said seeing her brothers in the sport inspired her to try it.
“I always got to watch my brothers wrestle. It got annoying hearing about them winning medals,” Thomas said.
Thomas has a few medals of her own after just a couple of years in the sport. She took second place in the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association state finals in 2017 and 2016. She took second place at nationals last year. Thomas finished second at the War of the Roses (all girls) state finals last year, and she took first place at the Michigan Girls Wrestling Association (MIGWAY) state finals this year.
Thomas said she enjoys all aspects of the sport of wrestling.
“I just like to wrestle. I like being able to earn something by myself,” Thomas said.
At the youth wrestling level, female wrestling numbers seem to be on the rise in Michigan. A few Michigan communities, including Grayling, had all-girl squads competing in MIGWAY tournaments this past season, and team organizers are hoping to eventually have all-girls wrestling as a varsity sport in Michigan high schools.
“The numbers of the girls are growing so fast,” Shelp said.
Thomas said her grandfather did not get to see her compete due to his illness.
“He didn’t get a chance to come,” Thomas said. “He was sick.”
Shelp said she saw the Pin Cancer page on Facebook and showed it to her daughter. They worked together to set up an individual page for Thomas.
As of Monday, May 1, Thomas had raised more than $1,300, getting close to her goal of $1,500. Shelp said she would have gone with a higher goal but was late in joining the effort. People can still donate to the Pin Cancer effort, but the latest campaign ended a few weeks ago, Shelp said.
“She would have put a higher goal if we had more time,” Shelp said.
Thomas wears a “pin cancer” singlet to tournaments.
“I saw it on a wrestling site,” Shelp said. “It was right after her grandpa passed.”
Shelp said many people in the wrestling community have noticed and encouraged Thomas’s efforts to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
Shelp said they’ve talked with Grayling Youth Wrestling Club coaches about hosting a Pin Cancer tournament in Grayling in December as another means to raise money and awareness.
Link to the fundraising site: https://getinvolved.pincancer.org/fundraiser/901599