Ann Arbor police officers to host fundraiser Saturday for childhood cancer research

Harper Mathis (left) and Charlotte Jenkins (right).
Harper Mathis (left) and Charlotte Jenkins (right). (Mathis and Jenkins families)

ANN ARBOR – Two officers in the Ann Arbor Police Department have partnered with Nightcap to hold a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

For AAPD co-workers Kabe Jenkins and Shellie Mathis, this topic is deeply personal.

Both have daughters, Charlotte Jenkins and Harper Mathis, who were diagnosed with cancer in the past two years and have had their worlds turned upside down by the unwanted journey of consultations and treatments.

The officers and their families will be on site for “Charlotte and Harper’s Lemonade Stand” at Nightcap with a lemonade stand built by Jenkins to raise funds -- and awareness -- for childhood cancer.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those unable to join, or are hesitant to attend an in-person event, online donations are also welcome.

Kabe Jenkins said he noticed something seemed off with Charlotte in July 2019. Then 18 months old, she began falling often and her eyes made sudden, jerky movements. As a precaution, Jenkins took her to the Emergency Department at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital where Charlotte spent three days undergoing test after test.

Charlotte was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just before her second birthday. Her surgeon was able to excise the tumor laparoscopically in October 2019.

With the tumor gone, Charlotte was still having issues with her strength and coordination and the erratic eye movements were still occurring. She was diagnosed with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, an extremely rare condition that stemmed from the neuroblastoma that required its own treatment.

“Currently, she is cancer free,” said Jenkins. “She still gets monthly infusions at U-M for the OMS and she will for a couple of years. You don’t know anything about it until it happens to you – it’s kind of a crash course. Alex’s Lemonade Stand was created by a girl who had neuroblastoma, like my daughter. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it.”

Harper Mathis was 10 years old in 2020 when she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. Harper has undergone surgery and radiation to remove the tumor and is now receiving chemotherapy. According to a joint statement by the Jenkins and Mathis families, she “continues to persevere and fight hard to kick cancer to the curb.”

“Just going to the pediatric oncology floor (at Mott) and sitting down for 10 minutes will change your whole perspective on life,” said Jenkins. “I’ve seen a lot of things as a police officer, but seeing what these kids and their families go through makes you choke up.

“Charlotte has done as good as can be expected. When you have that lucky break, essentially, you’re just thankful and you want everyone else to have the same luck you got.”

For more information about the fundraiser, click here.

Nightcap is at 220 S. Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

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