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Playground equipment dedicated to Douglas student who passed from rare pediatric cancer

Avery Betts Dedication Ceremony
Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-14 16:58:13-05

DOUGLAS, Mich. — A west Michigan elementary school is honoring a former student who passed away last year from a rare form of cancer.

Two pieces of playground equipment are being dedicated to seven-year-old Averey Betts to keep her legacy alive among students.

Douglas Elementary School's parent-teacher organization (PTO) helped raise the money to make it possible.

"Throughout Avery’s diagnosis and treatment, our community has been incredibly supportive, and I mean this just goes to show, I mean we are 15 months past when she past away, and we are still talking about her," said Avery's mom Melissa Betts.

In her short seven years, Avery Betts left a mark on the Douglas community. Her mom said she was goofy, loved to tell jokes and loved school, despite her 16-month battle with a rare form of pediatric cancer, DIPG.

"DIPG stands for ‘Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas’. It’s a highly aggressive brain tumor on the brain stem which controls all of your essential functions: breathing, heart rate, there’s some balance there and it’s universally fatal," said Melissa Betts.

Just 15 months after her passing, her elementary school is keeping her memory alive with two new pieces of playground equipment. Both were donated, paid for and built by the school's parent-teacher organization.

"We spent about $15,000 on the two pieces of playground equipment for Avery, and then once we got the playground equipment delivered this summer, we had a community build," said the Douglas Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Organization President Birdie Holley.

The equipment won't stand alone though. The PTO dedicated it to her with a plaque they'll be putting in the ground to keep her memory alive and to raise awareness for the incurable disease that took her life.

"I think we all have our own unique memories. I just hope this creates memories for people who didn’t get a chance to meet her and see how amazing she was," said Holley.

"I mean there are no words to express the gratitude," said Melissa Betts.

The dedication ceremony took place at the playground on Friday evening.

Avery's mom said if there is one thing she wanted people to take away from the day was to raise awareness for DIPG. She also encouraged people to write to their local senators to ask for more federal funding to go to childhood cancer research.