By Sidnie Jackson
Ferndale is a city full of givers and community people. One of the people who have made a huge contribution to our city is Michele Sibula, one of this year’s winners of the annual “Good Neighbor Award” from Ferndale Citizens for a Fair Ferndale.
Sibula is a lifelong Ferndalian; she has lived here for 54 years, along with raising her three children in Ferndale: Arik, Shea, and Lauran. After having three children go through the Ferndale Public School System, she began her volunteer work by volunteering in and out of her children’s classroom. She was an active member of the PTO, involved in fundraisers and her childrens’ volleyball, softball, and baseball games. She was also extremely invested in being a marching band parent.
Sibula quickly became a proud mother of three college graduates and, for the most part, her volunteerism as a parent came to a close. Then, tragedy struck her family. One of the most important people in Sibula’s life, her beloved cousin, passed away from breast cancer at age 41 leaving behind two children. Ironically, Sibula became inspired by the situation and, with her spirited personality, decided she could do something to help in the fight against cancer. Jackie Koivu, one of her friends and an active member of the community, asked Sibula to help with Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s ongoing national fundraising project.
Sibula served as the local Vice Chair of Relay for Life for one year, and later took charge of the local project after Koivu move to Florida. Now, nine years later she is still in charge of Relay for Life here in Ferndale.
When Sibula discovered she won the Good Neighbor award this year, she was surprised. “I believe God put us here on this Earth to help other people.” Sibula serves our community not for individual recognition, but out of the goodness of her heart, and to see a change in the community and the lives of others. She is very passionate about her service to the world.
Sibula is quite busy during the spring time before the annual Relay for Life event. She is constantly on the computer and phone, answering and asking questions regarding the event.
During the spring prior to Relay, she organizes many events to raise money and awareness. For example, Comedy for a Cure, Drag Queen Bingo, and many dining nights, as well as many other events that help raise money. Sibula also takes time to get sponsorships from businesses,organize team meetings, and brainstorm ideas of how to make Relay for Life As successful as it can be.
When asked why she does all of the work for this event, she stated “I want to live in a world where no mother or father has to leave their child; no child has to grow up without their parents. I want to live in a world where you don’t have to hear the words, ‘you have cancer,’ because almost everybody whether through family or friends have known someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and it makes you feel helpless.”
There are things we as a community can do to help the fight against cancer and Relay for Life is a major way that we can achieve the goal of ending cancer. Already our little Ferndale has raised over $400,000 dollars over the past nine years.
Sibula believes in what the American Cancer Society stands for, and how they help by providing money and programs for cancer patients and their families. Relay for Life is important to Sibula because it calls attention to the importance of the mission statement: Celebrate those who’ve won the battle against cancer, remember those we have lost, and fight back through research and early detection.
Sibula said that in order to prevent cancer we can do some very simple things. We can pledge not to smoke, and to eat more vegetables because those two things can help prevent cancer. In addition, go to annual doctor visits for early detection. Fighting back against cancer is not all about the money, but about prevention.
Not only does Sibula understand that cancer touches a lot of people, but she has personally been affected: her cousin and her mom is now an eight-year colon cancer survivor. Sibula humbly stated, “through volunteering I have gotten way more out of it than I have ever given.”
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