STARLIGHT — Joy can always be found, even in tragic events. Just ask 1987 Providence grads Chuck Grantz and Jody Proctor. Five years ago, they joined with other friends to bring back an event that honored their high school classmate Todd Denison. In 1992, Denison died from Leukemia at the age of 22.
On March 9, laughter replaced the grief and suffering caused by cancer as golfers attempted to putt balls into self-made holes at Joe Huber Family Farm. In its fifth year, the Chili Bowl doesn’t raise money for a national organization or a memorial fund. Instead, organizers have created the annual miniature golf and chili cook-off to benefit people struggling with tough situations.
“Why do we have to remember people when they’re gone? It’s about remembering people while they are here. Let’s change their life while they are here,” Grantz said. “We’re remembering those people and doing what’s best for them.”
Things unfortunately don’t go always as planned when cancer is involved. Fighting their own battles with the disease, New Albany resident Nancy Kerstiens and 6-year-old Kaden Book were chosen as the recipients of this year’s funds. Only Nancy attended the night’s festivities. Thirteen days prior to the benefit, Kaden lost his young life to leukemia.
Diagnosed in November 2011, Kaden’s spirits remained high during his battle with the illness. Despite the sickness, he continued to be a kid, running around and adoring things in nature like tractors, farms and animals. But before all of his other likes, his aunt Becky Book said he loved God first and foremost. In the hospitals, he would tell the gospel to other children afflicted with terminal diseases.
“Kaden was an inspiration in true faith in God. He really believed. And I think his legacy was to show others the path to faith,” Becky said.