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03-26-2020 Watervliet bone marrow donor says he’d do it again; Columns;

SAVED A LIFE… “I would do it again, if asked,” Bill insists. He doesn’t call himself a hero, but he saved a life with his actions.

Watervliet bone marrow donor says he’d do it again

By Teresa Smithers Isn’t it funny how life works? If Leah Dibble’s son had never suffered with leukemia, she never would have made friends with another woman whose son also had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant often offers the only possibility of a cure for patients with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, or diseases like sickle cell anemia. Sadly, her friend’s son did not receive that transplant in time. Leah did not want to see another person perish for lack of a donor. In the summer of 2017, she hosted a “Be the Match” donor event at Hartford Speedway that led to her brother becoming a bone marrow donor and saving a life. And this was all because her son had become sick. “If my son had never gotten sick, I never would have had a drive,” Leah said. “And to have my own brother become a donor – it’s a miracle.” At the Be the Match donor drive, healthy individuals ages 18-44 (the age group most requested by doctors) were recruited to join the Be The Match Registry. Being healthy and within that age group, Leah’s brother and Watervliet firefighter, Bill Whitney Jr. decided to join the registry. All that was required was $100 to help with processing and a cheek swab (matches are determined through DNA). The sample was sent to a lab to determine tissue type, then was added to the Be the Match Registry. This registry is the connection between patients searching for a cure and life-saving bone marrow donors. Not everyone in the registry will match and be asked to donate to a patient; in fact, only one in 40 will be called for additional testing. Many patients receive 100 or more possible matches, but one patient only received six matches; Bill was one of those six. He was contacted last fall. Whitney filled out an extensive health questionnaire and submitted to some tests, after which he was determined to be the closest match. The chance of someone actually donating is one in 430, but Bill was that one. He and his sister, Leah, traveled to the University of North Carolina, which had the facilities and the schedule to accomplish it. Bill Whitney downplays his part, saying only, “It was not that bad. They put two small incisions in my back, then drilled two small holes near my pelvic bone.” The discomfort he went through, he said, “was not near what people go through who have the illness.” He and his sister were able to go out for dinner the next day. He believes the trade of a little discomfort for someone’s life was totally worth it. “I would do it again, if asked,” Bill insists. He doesn’t call himself a hero, but he saved a life with his actions. Leah Dibble will host a second “Be the Match” donor event again this summer. Come to Hartford Speedway on Friday, July 10, 3-7 p.m. to join the registry. Non-Caucasians are especially sought, as there are few in the Registry and non-Caucasian patients need donors. The Registry seeks to be more diverse. Be the Match cannot predict what an individual’s chance of donating to a patient might be, but it’s important to remember anyone could be the only person who could save someone’s life. Becoming a bone marrow donor is a big decision; visit for more information. Who knows? You, too, may save someone’s life.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a perfect opportunity to talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening. While colorectal cancer remains the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women, the good news is that it can be prevented and found at an early stage. In Michigan this year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,570 cases of colorectal cancer and 1,640 deaths due to the disease. Adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk or they aren’t aware of the different testing or screening options. The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. This Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, make it a priority to discuss the different testing options with your provider. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether. Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer polyps, talk with your doctor about starting testing before age 50. Many cases of colorectal cancer have no symptoms especially early on when it can be more effectively treated. There are several screening options available including colonoscopy and simple take-home tests. Many health insurance plans including the Healthy Michigan Plan cover lifesaving preventive tests. Check with your health plan to find out the details of what colorectal cancer screening is covered. For resources for uninsured residents, and for more information about testing and prevention, visit

Making your life easier at

We offer many online tools and services to save you time. Here are five that can make your life easier: Open your own personal “my Social Security” account, which will enable you to request a replacement Social Security card, verify your earnings, get future benefit estimates, obtain benefit verification letters, and more at We’ve recently added some new features like the Retirement Calculator to make doing business with us easier than ever. Need answers to your Social Security-related questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page at You can complete and submit our online application for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes at Access our publications library — we have online booklets and pamphlets (including audio versions) on key subjects at Check out our blog for Social Security news and updates: Social Security Matters at Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at

It’s not easy, but look past the market selloff

These are challenging times. Like everyone, you are concerned about keeping your family safe and healthy, and you’re doing your part to help protect your community from the effects COVID-19. And if you’re an investor, you must also address your financial situation. How should you respond to the current market volatility and recent declines in investment prices? For one thing, try to avoid what many others seem to be doing: panicking. The market selloff may feel unsettling, but it appears to be driven as much, or more, by fear and panic than by economic or financial reality. Uncertainty is high, but there are reasons – solid, objective reasons – that provide more confidence in the longer-term outlook, suggesting that conditions still warrant an eventual rebound. U.S. unemployment entered this situation near a 50-year low, with solid wage growth. We will see a temporary disruption to the labor market, of course, along with a decline in economic activity, but households entered this period in generally good shape. Furthermore, housing market indicators were moving upward and the decline in mortgage rates could add more strength. Also, the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate cuts, taking short-term rates back near 0%, will support the economic rebound as the impact of the virus containment efforts eventually fade. In addition, while further volatility and the potential for further weakness will likely continue, the steep drops we’ve already seen indicate that the financial markets have “priced in” the likelihood of a short-term recession, which may mean that the worst of the stock market pain has already been endured, though, of course, there are no guarantees. First, though, it seems likely that the investment world will finally calm down only when the health situation shows signs of containment – and this will inevitably happen, despite the grim reports we are seeing these days. As a country, we have the motivation, the will, the solidarity and the resources to defeat the coronavirus and its effects, despite the pain and trauma it is now undoubtedly causing. So, back to our original question: What should you do? Here are a few suggestions: Remember why you’re investing. Given the market decline, you may be tempted to change your investment strategy. But keep in mind that your financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement, are longer-term than the shelf life of the coronavirus. These goals, not today’s headlines, should guide your decisions. Re-evaluate your risk tolerance. The recent volatility provides a good test of your ability to weather short-term swings in your portfolio. If you’re having a hard time coping with these losses, your portfolio may be positioned too aggressively for your risk tolerance. If so, you might want to adjust your portfolio mix to include more fixed-income securities, which can help provide more “downside” protection. However, this would also affect your long-term growth potential. Look for buying opportunities. Stocks are now at their most compelling values in more than a decade – in other words, there are plenty of compelling investments out there. You can find many high-quality investments at very good prices, so you may want to consider taking advantage of the opportunity. These are trying times for all of us. But as an investor, you’ll help yourself greatly if you keep the situation in perspective, take a long-term view, evaluate your own risk tolerance and be receptive to new possibilities. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC.

Local Corrections Officer Academy graduates 3 deputies from Berrien County

Three Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies, Christine Cipriano, Mia Rankin and Kendra Warman, have graduated from the local corrections officer training academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Deputy Cipriano graduated the fall academy in November 2019 while Deputies Rankin and Warman just graduated in March 2020. The four week academy offers a comprehensive, interactive instruction program in various disciplines for jail deputies. Training topics include custody and security, defensive tactics, first aid (including CPR and AED procedures), suicide awareness, fire safety and interpersonal communications. The academy, certified by the Michigan Sheriffs’ Coordinating and Training Council, is an important element of providing the necessary skills for maintaining a safe, secure environment for jail staff, inmates and county residents. “I want to congratulate these Deputies for their effort in completing this vital training. The skills learned at this academy will help them safely and effectively manage our inmate population”, said Sheriff L. Paul Bailey. “The training helps our deputies develop and practice the tools necessary to be successful in this high stress environment.”



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