Family and friends of a 15 year-old who lost her battle with brain cancer are getting ready to mark her birthday. It's been nearly two months since Kelsey Michelsen passed away. We've been following the young dancer's journey since shortly after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2011.
Tammy and Steve Michelsen say their daughter loved dancing, loved smiling and loved making others happy. Steve Michelsen says, "She had such a fighting spirit and was so happy. She loved life, loved people. As a father, I'm just really blessed to have a daughter like that."
Doctors diagnosed Kelsey with an inoperable brain tumor in June of 2011. Her mom says, "They said she wouldn't make it through the weekend. And, she did. She was even able to dance again."
She marched with the Southeast Polk RhythAMetteS in the fall of 2011 and worked through countless therapy sessions, all while inspiring her family, friends and people she didn't even know. Mr. Michelsen says, “You really don't realize what an impact she had on people until you see the sweatshirts."
You can't miss the sweatshirts. Her teammates started selling the pink Team Kelsey gear when Kelsey's health went downhill in December. Friend and teammate Brooke Ault says, "It means a lot to us when we see a lot of people wearing them. I know Kelsey would really like it too. And, it's her favorite color."
RhythAMetteS Coach Marianne Peterson says, "These girls have rallied. They have become very close. They're just like a family now. They will do anything for each other. They stayed after school to sell sweatshirts. They spent their lunch hour selling sweatshirts."
So far, the RhythAMetteS have sold about 2,000 of the sweatshirts, raising about $12,000 for the family. Tammy Michelsen says, "The funeral expenses and a headstone and just all of the final stuff that you don't think about."
The Michelsens say they appreciate the financial support. But, they're even more thankful to see a sea of pink wherever they go. Steve Michelsen says, "A month ago, I saw a construction working wearing a sweat shirt. And, I know he didn't know her because I didn't know him. I just thought it was kind of neat, and it's been truly a blessing."
The Michelsens say they're in the process of starting a foundation, in hopes of helping others to keep dancing. Mrs. Michelsen says, "We just kind of feel like everybody's been so supportive. We want to someway give back to them, for everything they've done for us. The past 18 months were not easy. But, they made it easier."
Kelsey's birthday is coming up February 7th. Her parents say they'll go out to eat at her favorite restaurant and eat her favorite red velvet cupcakes. Her dance team plans to spend the day paying it forward with random acts of kindness.