All posts by Michelle Walma

Vail Veterans Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary!

VailVeteransProgramThe Vail Veterans Program, founded by Cheryl Jenson and Major David Rozelle, is a unique rehabilitation program that has been proudly serving injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their families since 2004. The program pairs experienced ski or snowboard instructors with a veteran.  The instructors assist in modifying the equipment to fit each participants specific needs,  educate them how to use the equipment, and finally teach them how to ski or snowboard using the adaptive equipment.

The program initially started as a one-time event, but due to the overwhelming success, has grown to a semi-annual event.  Vail Veterans has assisted over 1,000 Wounded Warriors, many of whom come for the outdoor recreational therapy directly from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, and the Naval Medical Center.

Funded by sponsors, the Vail Veterans Program is free of charge for participants and their families.  The program serves as a source of healing for veterans and their families.  It is a chance to spend quality time with loved ones, as well as to socialize and connect with other veterans.  For the veterans and instructors alike, the program is more than just a ski vacation, it is often life changing. Ski instructor and 7 year program volunteer, Josh Perkins (pictured above left) states that everyone involved is positively affected and everyone gets something different out of it.   For some, participating in the outdoor recreational activities restores hope, builds self esteem and boosts confidence.  For others, the program helps participants feel better about their future, and opens their minds to the possibilities that await them.

VailVeteransProgram2The Vail Veterans Program hosts several events throughout the year. There are two annual winter programs, one in January and the other in March, which teach adaptive skiing and snowboarding techniques.  There is also an annual summer program in July which allows participants to choose from several activities including whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fly fishing, golfing, mountain biking, and zip lining.

Although this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Vail Veterans program, there are no big celebration plans.  The program is simply about sharing, and giving back to the veterans.  The ski instructors participating in the program did pitch in and purchase a pink firefighters helmet for the group’s founder Cheryl. The helmet is something she’s wanted, and the instructors had it personalized with her name and the #10 signifying the 10th anniversary of the program.

If you would like more information on the Vail Veterans Program, would like to become a program sponsor, or make a donation please visit their website at

Join us in congratulating the Vail Veterans Program on their 10th anniversary!

MomsBloom 5th Anniversary

MomsBloom promotes an extended family environment for today’s new moms. Sara Binkley-Tow, Angie Walters, and Alice Christensen founded MomsBloom 5 years ago. MomsBloom is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping parents of newborns in Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities. They assist approximately 250 families each year, free of charge. MomsBloom interviews, checks, recruits and trains volunteers. The volunteers are then matched with a family who needs assistance.  MomsBloom 5th Anniversary Flier with Balloons

The Flourishing Families program from MomsBloom provides support for new moms in three important ways. First, volunteers assist weekly with household tasks. Secondly, the program provides a way to connect with other parents. Lastly, access to education and resources is available to assist parents in raising their child. The Flourishing Families program is a support system from the very beginning and promotes a sense of community among new mothers.

The Cameron’s Garden program from MomsBloom gives support for families who are grieving the loss of their baby. This program provides a safe and understanding environment for parents during this very difficult time. Whether it’s by simply listening and providing a shoulder to cry on, or by reaching out and offering assistance, Cameron’s Garden is there to help parents begin the healing process.

MomsBloom wants to assist dads, too. The DadsGrow program is still being developed and the goal is to support new dads and provide a place they could turn to if needed.

MomsBloom is celebrating their 5th anniversary, BloomBash, at the Paul App
Gallery located at 910 Cherry St SE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. BloomBash is a celebration of accomplishments, and to give thanks and honor everyone who has helped to allow MomsBloom to continue to make a positive change in the community. Festivities will include entertainment, a silent auction, as well as food and drinks. BloomBash will take place on Thursday, March 7,
2013 from 6:30 -8:30 pm and tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple.

Happy 5th Anniversary to MomsBloom!

West Michigan Whitecaps celebrate 20 seasons this year!

From post-game fireworks shows to meet20 Years and greet and autograph events with the Detroit Tigers, the West Michigan Whitecaps have lined up a year filled with promotions to celebrate their 20 seasons of success.

The West Michigan Whitecaps are co-owned by local businessmen Lew Chamberlin of Grand Rapids and Dennis Baxter of Muskegon.  After 10 years of planning, the opening season was in 1994. The Whitecaps are a minor league baseball team that plays in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League.  They are a Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Whitecaps play 70 home games and 70 road games each season. This year they are playing under a new manager, Larry Parrish, who is a former manager of the Detroit Tigers and Toledo Mud Hens.

The Whitecaps have made it to the playoffs 13 times in 19 seasons. They’ve won Division Titles and League Championships in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

The 2013 schedule has just been released.  Opening day is April 4 with a double header game on April 5 which coincides with the Detroit Tigers opening day.  Whitecaps fans are invited to stay after the game to watch the Tigers play on the big screen.

The 2013 anniversary season includes weekly promotions.

  • Sundays are Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Family Day. The first 1,000 kids eat free! There will be special activities for kids as well as opportunities for autographs.
  • Mondays are JQ99 All Faiths Night. All Whitecap fans will receive half off admission by showing a worship newsletter.
  • Tuesdays are Silver Slugger Night.  All Whitecap fans over 50 years young will receive half-off admission
  • Thursdays are Altogas Thrifty Thursdays. Come and enjoy various $2 food and drink specials. Also, every Thursday is College Night. All Whitecap fans that show a college or military ID will get a reserved seat for only $5.
  • Fridays are Tiger Fridays. Starting June 14, former Detroit Tigers come to Fifth Third Ballpark to meet fans and sign autographs. Every Tiger Friday includes a free giveaway to the first 1,000 fans in attendance.

The team’s 20th anniversary will be celebrated throughout the season with 20 post-game fireworks shows.  Fireworks will be on Wednesdays starting on June 5th and Saturdays starting May 18th.

Happy 20th Anniversary to the West Michigan Whitecaps!

Happy 5th Anniversary to HopCat Brewery!

HopCat was born in 2008 and created entirely around one vision- to bring you great beer. Owners Mark and Michele Sellers have done just that. HopCat specializes in Michigan brews, but they also offer a wide range of regional craft brew, global beer, and a large Belgian election. Don’t forget to try the seasonal selections while you can.

HopCat’s owners, staff, and patrons certainly have reason to celebrate. During these first 5 years, HopCat Brewery has earned some pretty amazing accolades. These include being named the 2nd best beer bar in America by and being rated the 3rd best beer bar in the world by BeerAdvocate magazine. Locally, readers of the Grand Rapids Magazine have consistently selected HopCat as the city’s best bar.

HopCat celebrated its anniversary last month with the release of a limited edition 22-ounce bottle of Oil Rigger Russian Imperial Stout. Other festivities included food and drink specials, and a crack fries eating contest which is HopCat’s house blend seasoned beer battered fries.

Check out HopCat Brewery in downtown Grand Rapids located at 25 Ionia, opening soon in East Lansing, or catch them participating in the Winter Beer Festival on February 23, 2013 at Fifth Third Ballpark.