Cancer, Reed City Hospital

Fight Cancer and Register for the 2020 Wheatlake Festival of Races

Registration is now open at

Angie Howard of Mecosta and Pam Marvel of Rodney ran the 10K last year to encourage friend and cancer survivor Cassie Smith England, who had recently been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

BIG RAPIDS & REED CITY, Mich., January 20, 2020 – Runners, walkers and those joining the fight against cancer can register now for the 2020 Wheatlake Festival of Races.

Spectrum Health invites everyone to support local cancer care by participating in the family-friendly event Saturday, May 16 in Big Rapids.

Shortly after her stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, survivor Cassie Smith England of Canadian Lakes had friends run in her honor at last year’s event.

England said the encouragement from friends at the race and throughout her fight has been inspirational.

“The support and love I received from my family, friends, co-workers and community after my diagnosis inspired courage and strength deep inside of me I never knew I had,” she said.

The festival of races includes a half marathon, 10K, 5K run, 5K walk and kids dash. All proceeds benefit wellness services for patients at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center, which provides free resources and services for those on a cancer journey.

“Cancer touches the lives of so many and The Wheatlake Races is a testament to how strong this community is to rally together to honor our family, friends and neighbors,” race director Danielle Wells said. “Whether running, walking or cheering, anyone can be involved. We also offer the opportunity to have the names of your loved ones displayed on a commemorative stake along the race route.”

Memorial and Encouragement Stakes are available by visiting and can be taken home after the race.

The half marathon will start at the Reed City Depot, and the 10K will start at Paris Park, with both courses along the White Pine Trail.  The 5K run and Wellness Walk will start at the Big Rapids Bandshell with the course along the Riverwalk and Big Rapids city streets. Children under 10 can participate in a kids dash at no charge. All routes will finish at the bandshell behind Big Rapids Middle School. Those who register before April 18 will receive a reduced registration fee and are guaranteed a 2020 Wheatlake Festival of Races shirt.

“Each year participants come out to support loved ones walking their cancer journey,” Wells said. “We raise funds and raise hopes. It’s always a very emotional, feel good morning.”

For information or to register, visit or call Danielle Wells, race director, at 231.592.4208.

or call Danielle Wells, race director, at 231.592.4208.

The Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City serves 12 Northern Michigan counties as a comprehensive regional facility delivering both radiation and infusion treatments. Featured within the center is a Wellness Center that includes an extensive cancer-focused library, hair and beauty boutique and integrative therapy rooms. The center offers a host of free services including massages, reflexology, acupuncture, beauty consultations and bra and wig fittings.

Additionally, the Wheatlake Wellness Path will be unveiled this spring – a winding path adjacent to the center featuring multiple benches, trees, a fountain, healing gardens, reflection spaces and picnic areas. The flat paved surface will be completely accessible for everyone.

“It’s going to be beautiful and will add such a wonderful touch to the center,” Susan Wheatlake said. “Families and patients will enjoy being outdoors and spending time resting and nourishing their spirit, which is vital when fighting this terrible disease,” she said. Wheatlake is a local cancer survivor and donor to the center that bears her name.


About Spectrum Health
Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,300 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 155 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.


John Norton
Communications Specialist
Office: 231.592.4387
Mobile: 231.580.1079