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Family, friends host benefits in honor of KaNisha

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Photo courtesy of Green Bandana Brigade

Zak Lenski shaves a participant’s head at the Green Bandana Brigade’s Be Bold, Be Bald fundraiser in October 2013. The Green Bandana Brigrade presented the proceeds to KaNisha Flemming’s family.

Cheyenne Makinia , Managing Editor/Photography Editor
March 11, 2014
Filed under Life, Top Stories

Every four minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. One of the victims of such a diagnosis was UW-Green Bay senior KaNisha Flemming, who passed away Jan. 12 after a short battle with leukemia.

Her family, friends and fiancé wanted to do something in honor of KaNisha so others would be able to share in the kind of person she was. Not long after her death, KaNisha’s family and friends started several fundraising initiatives to do just that.

KaNisha’s fiancé Cody Davis ordered hot pink hats with “Smile Beautiful” on the front. The saying was something KaNisha’s grandfather always told her to do, and she had it tattooed on her wrist.

Her family and friends have sold more than 3,000 hats. All of the money raised is going to the Leukemia Foundation in KaNisha’s name.

Additionally, they’re selling pins with cheetah and zebra print, which she loved, and they have an orange ribbon for leukemia.

Two benefits are taking place in the next three months to help cover medical costs and start a recurring scholarship in KaNisha’s name to help financially disadvantaged students attend college.

“I know this is what she would have wanted because I am proud to say that I was her aunt and godmother,” Lisa Hoerth said.

The first one is the first annual “Smile Beatiful” In Memory of KaNisha Flemming Benefit in Chilton, Wis., Mar. 21-23.  There will be a dodgeball tournament, a brat fry, a raffle, a silent auction and performances by the Chris Aaron Band and the Spicy Tie Band at the Cheers Bar.

The next benefit will be a dinner and raffle at the Mauthe Center on campus May 3 from 3 to 7 p.m. Friends and classmates, Crystal Kempton and Jordan Grapentine are helping to put on the “Smile Beautiful” Green Bay Benefit Dinner for KaNisha Flemming.

Grapentine worked closely with KaNisha through Circle K and on the same research team. Grapentine said half of the money raised will go to KaNisha’s family for medical and funeral costs and the other half will go to the scholarship fund in KaNisha’s name.

They are seeking volunteers to help gather donations and prepare for the benefit.

Even those who didn’t know KaNisha well joined in the cause, including the Green Bandana Brigade. In October 2013, the student organization did a Be Bold, Be Bald fundraiser where people shaved their heads and raised donations to help a local person affected by cancer.

At the time of the fundraiser, they didn’t have anyone in mind to donate to. With two weeks of planning and three hours of shaving heads, they raised $442. They saved that money until Feb. 25 when they presented the check to KaNisha’s parents, Ken and Theresa Flemming, at the Celebration of Life on campus.

Zak Lenski, a member of the Green Bandana Brigade, had the honor of presenting them the check.

“It felt great donating the money, and her parents’ reaction was the best feeling in the world,” Lenski said. “We were so happy we could see the money go to a family on campus.”

Lenski has a friend whose mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, so he shaved his head, but felt like there was more he could do. This led him to start the fundraiser, which the Green Bandana Brigade plans to repeat next year.

Lenski knew Brianna Bartoszewski, one of KaNisha’s best friends, and had met KaNisha a few times.

“She was hilarious and a fun person to be around,” Lenski said.

For more information on the “Smile Beatiful” In Memory of KaNisha Flemming Benefit in Chilton, contact Lisa Hoerth at 920-418-1106. For more information on the “Smile Beautiful” Green Bay Benefit Dinner for KaNisha Flemming, contact Crystal Kempton or Jordan Grapentine at smilebeautifuluwgbbenefit@gmail.com.

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