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Community rallies behind local families ahead of the holidays

Posted at 6:25 AM, Dec 24, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — For the second year in a row, FOX 17 has partnered with Chef Jenna Arcidiacono of Amore Trattoria Italiana and the West Michigan community to surprise local families to brighten their holiday spirits.

Chef Jenna put out a call for local families who are going through a lot right now and the community rallied behind her to provide donations.

Our first stop was at the home of Tina and Scott Suchecki. Scott is a Marine who is battling cancer.

The couple was given gifts for three different places they can go to escape their reality. The first was in Ludington and a second donation was from Suburban Inns which donated a hotel stay to the couple with gift certificates with food.

Tina has also been battling fertility issues and with the help of the Fertility Center of Michigan, which put $500 in a family building fund for the Suchecki's.

You can find Tina and Scott's GoFundMe to help with medical expenses here.

With the help of the community and staff at Amore, Tina was given other pampering gifts.

Our second visit was to see Lizzie Shalhoup, a young mother who is in the battle of her life. Shalhoup is a former nurse who worked until she got so sick she couldn't anymore.

Shalhoup has a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which has affected her body's connective tissue causing severe bowel dysmotility.

Over the past 10+ years she has endured over 23 surgeries fighting for her life. She ultimately experienced total bowel failure and required a bowel transplant to survive.

In August of 2016, Lizzie was so fortunate to receive a small bowel transplant. Unfortunately in March 2017, her transplant went into rejection. She spent a year in the hospital fighting to save her new organ, but after several more surgeries and procedures, last resort chemo and anti rejection medication, and nearly losing her life her transplant failed and had to be removed.

This has left Lizzie with only 23 inches of bowel and the inability to eat and absorb nutrients. In order for Lizzie to survive she has to be fed through TPN (nutrients/vitamins/lipids delivered through her heart). Right now TPN is the only way she can survive but it also causing her kidneys and liver to fail.

With the help of locals, we surpised Lizzie with a day of pampering which included a some clothes from Leigh's Fashions, a makeover, a massage from Mary Beth Champrenault, .

Her daughters also got a special visit from Elsa herself, thanks to Planet Princess.

Photographer Lynell Miller was also there to capture photographs for the memories.

You can find a link to her GoFundMe page here.