Sharon’s Ball supports young cancer patient

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Sharon’s 5th Cinderella Ball will benefit Leah Johnson, who is fighting leukemia.

Sharon’s 5th Cinderella Ball will benefit Leah Johnson, who is fighting leukemia.

A festive night in Delta will be filled with dancing, food, drink, and fun, with a goal of supporting higher education and a young cancer victim.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, from 6-11 p.m., American Legion Post #373 at 5939 State Hwy. 109 will be transformed into Sharon’s 5th Cinderella Ball, a fundraiser for the Sharon K. Bruce Memorial Scholarship. An educator for 33 years at Evergreen Local Schools, Bruce died in December 2014 from leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

Kirsten Mignin, her daughter and Sharon’s Cinderella Ball executive director, said the event is a tribute to her mother, and a legacy from the vivacious woman who valued learning and treasured living life to its fullest.

“My mom had said repeatedly she was glad she had a full life,” Mignin said. “She and my dad went dancing all the time. She loved people, she volunteered. She was just a lovely person.”

The ball will include a meal catered by the Barn Restaurant in Delta, a dessert bar, late evening snacks, and adult beverages. Music will be provided by K & R Mobile DJs of Swanton, and emcee Tim Bovee will guide guests through the event. A Chinese auction, a silent auction, and a wine cork pull will be featured.

Tickets are $25 for singles and $50 for couples. Tables for groups of eight are also available, and each will hold a surprise for the group.

The deadline for ticket sales is Jan. 5. They can be purchased at, by calling 419-583-0153 or by emailing [email protected]

Mignin, a Delta resident and kindergarten teacher, began Sharon’s Cinderella Ball in 2015 as a way to raise scholarship money for high school seniors from her alma mater, Morenci Area High School, and from Evergreen High School. Delta High School seniors were included this year in the scholarship drive as a tribute to Sharon Bruce’s volunteer work in Mignin’s former middle school classroom.

The monetary awards skew toward areas of education in which Bruce held an interest. “We try to get my mom’s whole personality into the scholarships,” Mignin said.

Seven will be presented to students this year. Thirty have been awarded over the past five years.

Mignin has been assisted in the effort by her father, Larry Bruce, who coached golf and girls basketball for the Pike-Delta-York school district for several years, and her husband, Jon, a math instructor at Delta Middle School who coached alongside her father.

But Mignin wanted to expand the non-profit’s outreach. At a September committee meeting she told members, “You know, we can do more.”

As a result, Sharon’s Cinderella Ball proceeds will now also benefit children with cancer. This ball’s proceeds will go toward the treatment of Leah Johnson, an 11-year-old student at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Swanton fighting leukemia. Leah is the daughter of Andrea Johnson, a Delta schools administrator, and a sister to three siblings, Will, Luke, and Dan.

She was diagnosed June 8 after running a fever and complaining of headaches and dizziness. Leah also appeared pale and tired, but because she’s active in several sports her mother suspected she was simply overworked.

Blood work performed at a Napoleon clinic suggested otherwise, and Leah was sent to Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, where cancer was diagnosed.

“I was shocked,” Johnson said. “As a parent, it was the worst day of my life. You don’t expect that for your kid.”

Leah has since undergone three cycles of chemotherapy, and awaits a bone marrow test to determine a further course of action. Her mother said the girl is anticipating at least two more years of treatment and her path is uncertain. But Leah is responding positively to treatment and her doctors are optimistic.

“She’s strong, she’s funny, she’s patient,” Johnson said. “She never complains. She just wants to go school and spend time with her friends. She’s just trying to be a normal kid. She’s amazing, and has strength that I wish I had.”

Johnson said she and Leah’s father, Jake, are overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that Sharon’s Cinderella Ball chose to help their daughter. They plan to attend the event.

“Jake and I just appreciate all the support. We’re just very grateful,” Johnson said.

Mignin is hoping for a turnout of over 200 people at this Sharon’s Cinderella Ball. “We’re hoping to get a lot of support and go bigger every year,” she said.

She said her mother would have loved lending her name to the event. “She’d be the first one to buy a ticket,” Mignin said.

Sharon’s 5th Cinderella Ball will benefit Leah Johnson, who is fighting leukemia.’s 5th Cinderella Ball will benefit Leah Johnson, who is fighting leukemia.

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.