Pink Arrow Pride has been ingrained in our community for more than 15 years, and for that, you can thank Noel Dean. The former varsity football coach was the first to suggest the idea of having the team don pink jerseys for one game to raise money in support of local families on a cancer journey.
Now, in a cruel twist of fate, it is the Deans who find themselves on a cancer journey. Doak Dean, the youngest son of Noel and Jill, was diagnosed with testicular cancer just before Thanksgiving last year. Since then, there has been surgery and chemo and expensive medical bills.
While there isn’t much that can be done to lessen the burden of surgery and chemotherapy, friends are rallying around the Deans to help cover the cost of treatment.
“A lot of people were asking how they could help out,” says Brian Krajewski, who is part of a team organizing a fundraiser in support of Doak. “We were a little apprehensive about asking the Deans,” he adds, noting that the family did not reach out to request help.
However, in conversations with Noel, it was learned that the family has a health insurance plan with a high deductible. They hit that deductible in December, it reset it January and they met it again a few weeks later.
To help cover those out-of-pocket costs, friends of the family are holding a fundraiser this Friday, March 24, from 5pm-11pm on the Lowell Showboat. There will be live music, auctions, dancing and a cash bar. Money raised above and beyond the needs of the Deans will be rolled into a fund at Lowell Community Wellness to support local families impacted by cancer.
Doak: “Everybody’s Little Brother”
Those new to the community might not be familiar with the Dean family, but their legacy here is large.
Noel Dean coached the Lowell Red Arrows varsity football team for 22 years and led them to three state championships before retiring in 2018. His children all graduated from Lowell High School with his daughter noted for her ability on the soccer field and his three sons being part of state champion wrestling teams. In addition to their athletic ability, the Dean children also excelled academically.
“Doak has been raised by the community for the most part,” Krajewski says. “I think he is everybody’s little brother.”
In 2021, Noel took a coaching job at Tift County High School in Georgia, and Doak headed to Harvard University where he joined the wrestling team. Although the family now resides in Georgia, they haven’t lost touch with Lowell.
“[Noel] still maintains contact and is still an important part of the community,” Krajewski says. “They still consider Lowell home.”
After Doak’s initial diagnosis, he had surgery, which typically puts this type of cancer in remission. However, in subsequent testing, doctors found his markers for cancer were increasing which necessitated chemotherapy. Doak’s regiment includes three rounds of chemotherapy, after which he’ll be tested again for signs of cancer.
All this means Doak had to put his education at Harvard on hold. He is currently at home and travels to a regional Mayo Clinic location for treatment.
Details for Friday’s Fundraiser
The fundraiser planned for this Friday, March 24, will take place on the Lowell Showboat from 5pm-11pm. A live band – 2BT – will perform from 6:30pm-10pm. There will also be silent auctions closing hourly, beginning at 6pm, and a few big-ticket items will be subject to a live auction at 8pm.
Cost for the event is $20 and includes admission, light snacks and five auction tickets. A cash bar will be available.
There will also be a Poker Walk held on the same night with funds going to the Deans and other families impacted by cancer. Check-in for the Poker Walk is 4-6pm at the Lowell Chamber of Commerce with a turn-in time of 8pm.
Finally, local restaurants are donating a portion of their evening’s sales to the cause. You are encouraged to visit one of these establishments either before or after stopping by the Showboat:
- Flat River Grill
- Main Street BBQ
- Big Boiler Brewing
- Rio Plano Taqueria
- Sabor Mexicano
Sales from 4pm until close will contribute to the fundraiser.
Finally, for those who aren’t able to attend, contributions to the family can be made online or sent to Lowell Community Wellness, P.O. Box 246, Lowell, MI 49331. Checks should be made out to Lowell Community Wellness with “Doak Dean” written in the memo.
“The family is very grateful,” Krajewski says. And he and other organizers hope the beneficiaries of this fundraiser will extend far beyond the Deans.
Any money raised above their out-of-pocket expenses will be deposited into the cancer support fund maintained by Lowell Community Wellness. This is the fund that receives a portion of the Pink Arrow proceeds and provides assistance to Lowell families impacted by cancer. If Friday’s event is successful, Krajewski says there has been some talk about making it an annual or bi-annual fundraiser to supplement the money raised by Pink Arrow.