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After beating cancer, 12-year-old & family give back to Ronald McDonald HouseSubmitted: 08/16/2013
After beating cancer, 12-year-old & family give back to Ronald McDonald House
Story By Adam Fox

TOMAHAWK - Cancer wreaks havoc on a person's body. Even treatment causes you to lose hair and energy.

It's a time when people need help. It's something one Tomahawk family knows all too well.

These days it's all about snowmobiles for 12-year-old Tucker Van Ryen and his family.

They travel the Northwoods racing snowmobile circuits. His dad Terry Van Ryen thought it could help the family.

"I said boy that's something that would be neat to do with the kids on a weekend in the winter." Terry said.

But a decade ago the Van Ryen family's focus was on two-year-old Tucker's battle with cancer. His dad remembers the tough times.

"The bad days were when we couldn't get out of that hospital," Terry said. "You had to stay in the ward, you had to stay in your unit, and you had very little area."

On good days, the family could escape and stay together at the Ronald McDonald house in Madison.

"It was like staying at a hotel," Terry said. "It's a night away from where you are spending a lot of time."

Ten years later, Tucker is cancer free. Kerri Burns takes care of Tucker and still fears the worst every time he gets sick.

"In the back of your mind your always thinking, oh is it back?" Burns said.

But it hasn't come back. And the family knows how far Tucker has come.

"To see him be able to do the things that he can do on a daily basis is wonderful," Burns said.

That's why the family wants to return the favor to the Ronald McDonald house. They're hauling a trailer full of sleds to Madison for the kids to play with. The family has a plan.

"To show the kids who the champions are," Burns said. "They are the ones who are battling and fighting with cancer every day."

A fight, the Van Ryen's know can be made just a little bit easier by the kindness of others.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

EAGLE RIVER - Some kindergarteners got a glimpse of the World Championship Snowmobile Derby Friday.

Snowmobile racer Jordan Grabowski stopped by the Eagle River Elementary School to talk to some kindergarteners about snowmobile safety.

"It's kind of a dying out sport and I want to keep it going. [I] try to get them to realize that it's not okay to ride without a helmet on and our safety gear on and that it is dangerous if you do ride it without because you could get hurt," said Grabowski.

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PHILLIPS - When students go to Phillips Elementary School, their classroom might be heated to only 60 degrees. It could also be 80 degrees.

The heating system is old enough that consistency is nearly impossible, and fixes are tough.

"We can't get parts [anymore] for a lot of the heating systems," said Principal Dave Scholz.

Underneath the school on Thursday, he pointed to the support structure.

"You can see all of the floor joists," he said. "Most of them are rotting right out. A lot of breaking off."

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EAGLE RIVER - The World Championship Snowmobile Derby kicked off in Eagle River Friday morning. 

You might think of snowmobile racing as a sport for adults, but people of all ages are competing. Kids as young as four years old came out Friday to ride their tiny sleds through the finish line. 

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the riders lining up for the world snowmobile championship race. But before those riders came into the spotlight they started as kids. 

"My first race was when I was five," said Maverick Woyke. 

At just 12 years old, Woyke has been racing for seven years. 

"We went and watched a race and he had so much fun watching he decided he wanted to start racing," said Maverick's dad Jesse Woyke. 

Maverick traveled to with his dad from Buffalo, Minnesota to race this weekend in Eagle River. He's no stranger to traveling for the sport. 

"We've been Jackson, Wyoming, Winter Park, Colorado, Deadwood, Duluth, Shakopee in Minnesota, we kind of go all over," said Jesse. 

Maverick isn't the only veteran in the field, many of the young riders have been riding almost as soon as they could walk. 

"I've done this race as long as I can remember. Probably since I was four or five," said 11-year-old Tyler Poker. 

It's a tradition to come to Eagle River at this time of year, and for a lot of these kids, it's a family tradition.

"We were eating dinner and Dad asked me if I wanted to come race, and I said yeah, and then this happened," said 11-year-old Reece Bollmann. 

They travel from all over Wisconsin and the Midwest to have fun, but also to compete. 

"I've been to this race four times now and I've won it the last three times so I'm hoping for a fourth," said 14-year-old Kyle Thome. 

It's a unique sport, and it brings something different than football or baseball. 

"[My favorite part about racing is] the jumps because it's so much air and it's just a blast," said Bollmann.
 
But of course the best part?

"Well, getting off of school," said Poker. 

Many of the kids will spend the weekend watching other riders after they finish their races. And the ultimate goal is to be right there on that Sunday championship starting lineā€¦one day. 
 
"If we could get there that'd be awesome," said Thome. 

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WOODRUFF - A Northwoods fire department used some of its money gained through fundraising to help other first responders stay safe.

"For lack of a better term it works like a bomb," said Woodruff Assistant Fire Chief Victor Gee. 

The Woodruff Fire Department invested in five "X-tinguish" fire suppression tools.

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ASHLAND COUNTY - A prosecutor has cleared a sheriff's deputy in a 14-year-old boy's death.

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WOODRUFF - Six people died in snowmobile accidents since January 5 in Wisconsin. 

Last year, 16 people died while snowmobiling during the whole season. 

DNR Conservation Warden Supervisor Dave Walz says at this rate, Wisconsin is on track to match that. 

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PRICE COUNTY - For the first time in more than three decades the Price County Circuit Court welcomed a new judge to take the bench Friday.
Family, friends and judges from all over northern Wisconsin attended the investiture ceremony for Judge Kevin Klein.

Klein grew up in Price County and practiced law for more than 36 years.
Klein had his own law practice and was the local bar President for Price County before becoming a judge.
"When you start out and you're young and eager to practice law, you're not thinking about many years later taking the bench. But in retrospect you can see how call those years fit together," said Klein. 

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