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Keeping a promise: 7 years later, woman holding charity fundraiser to honor best friend

wendy ensing
Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 22:50:46-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Wendsy Ensing isn't one to break promises. For years, she's been keeping the commitment that she made to her best friend Shannon Wieber, after Wieber was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ensing rallied her friends together and created the first-ever Shannyville Pub Crawl to raise money and support Wieber in her fight. She thought it would be a "one-time thing," but Wieber had other plans.

"Shannon made me promise, she said 'listen, whether I win my battle or lose my battle, I want you to keep this going, and I want you to pay it forward to someone in West Michigan who is battling cancer of any type,'" Ensing said.

After losing Wieber, Ensing has more than made good on that promise.

In November, she held the seventh annual Shannyville Pub Crawl. The fundraiser brings together friends and strangers to enjoy different bars and fun activities around West Michigan.

"Shannyville is a place that my mom went to to just let go, let loose and have fun and that's what Wendy wanted people to feel," said Wieber's daughter Lauren.

Ensing typically chooses a beneficiary after asking friends and community members for recommendations.

Amanda Smith, who was battling stage 4 colon cancer, was gifted around $14,000 from the fundraiser in 2017.

"She didn't even know me," Smith said. "She's a living angel. A lot of it was deductibles for our health insurance, just because of all of the surgeries, all of the chemotherapy. I couldn't thank her enough."

Ensing said the event grows each year and she has no plans of stopping it.

"I'm just grateful that I can do this in my best friends name," she said. "It helps me feel connected to her and helps me cope with the grief that I will have my whole life."

The Shannyville Pub Crawl is held the first weekend of November.

To learn more, you can visit the event's Facebook page.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Ensing is receiving a $300 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Robin McElfish, our November Pay it Forward Person of the Month.