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EASTPOINTE — Keith Ward is the type of person who likes to help out wherever he can.

The Eastpointe Community Schools Board of Education trustee, however, has cut back on his volunteerism because of his health.

District Superintendent Ryan McLeod disclosed that information during the April 11 Board of Education meeting held at City Hall. Ward was absent from the meeting.

“I talked to Mr. Ward earlier today. I wanted to let the community know he is battling with some health issues currently that are requiring him to kind of take a step back a little from his position and work on the board,” McLeod said. “He’s still very interested in getting back to this work. He cares deeply about our district, but because of those health issues, he’s kind of taking care of that.”

Ward was diagnosed last month with sarcoma, which he said is a rare form of cancer.

“I started with a cough. It was getting progressively worse. (Sarcoma) usually starts in the bones and the muscles and the fatty tissue,” Ward said. “I went to a pulmonary doctor. He started doing some tests.

“The tumor started in my left hip. I had a biopsy March 3. My birthday was the next day,” Ward said. “One week later, I got a phone call at 8:30 in the evening from the doctor. He told me I had cancer.”

The disease has spread to Ward’s lungs, and he and his family are in the process of discussing his treatment with his medical team at the University of Michigan.

Ward is a 1985 graduate of East Detroit High School, and his wife, Jennifer Ward, graduated in 1988. They have two daughters. Natalie Ward is a 2015 graduate of EDHS, and has been helping to take care of her dad. Valarie Ward graduated from Eastpointe High School in 2019 and is a student at Western Michigan University. They also have a 2-year-old granddaughter.

Jennifer and Keith were always active in the parent teacher organization when their daughters were in elementary school and served on the band boosters at EDHS.

“We donated a large part of my life to helping the city and the district, and we’re proud of it,” Ward said. “I want to walk my daughters down the aisle. I want to see my granddaughter grow up.”

Ward also wanted to share this advice with others.

“Don’t let a cough or sneeze keep you from having it looked at,” he said. “You never know what it could be.”

At last Monday’s meeting, school board President Jon Gruenberg commented on his colleague.

“As far as Mr. Ward’s concerned, health issues, he’s got to take care of them. Even as difficult as his health issues are currently, he has been still engaged. Even though he hasn’t been coming to the meetings, he has been calling to the district. He’s talked to the superintendent a couple, three times I know,” Gruenberg said. “He has sent us emails and been engaged with us to let us know what’s going on with him. I think all of our energy and positive thinking needs to go to one of our fellow board members because he really needs it right now, and he’s a big part of the team.”

Since Ward is not able to work at the moment, McLeod said a GoFundMe page has been established “to help him and his family with some of the expense they are currently facing. I just want to make sure that people were aware of those as options. Of course our prayers and thoughts go out to Mr. Ward and his entire family.”

The Wards’ friend, Keith Wood, set up the GoFundMe account. At press time, there were 85 donations totaling $6,230. The goal is to raise $10,000. Find it at www.gofundme.com/f/help-keith-and-jennifer.

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