Northern Michigan Communities Support Family Who Lost Mother To Cancer

A teenage girl who has memories of her mom in every corner of Leland now has the community wrapping its arms around her family.

Talia Yaakoby and her family lost their mother Kristie to cancer back in 2013.

During the week her dad commuted from Chicago to see his family who lived in Leelanau County.

After Kristie died, the kids were faced with a choice: to move back with their dad or stay in Northern Michigan.

Talia and her brother wanted to stay in Northern Michigan.

That’s when the Leland community took matters into their own hands.

"When we summered here we loved it we would spend more time here than in Chicago," Talia said.

It’s the kind of Northern Michigan spirit that kept the Yaakoby’s coming back for more. Back in 2010, Kristie decided Leland was the perfect place for her kids.

"Her moving us up here was the best thing she could have done for me I’m eternally grateful," Talia said.

Life for Talia and her siblings blossomed as they balanced seeing their dad every weekend when he drove up from Chicago. Until November 2012, when their world turned upside down.

"From then on it was just treatments, hospitals, radiation and just a year later four days shy she passed away," Talia said.

Talia and her brother Ben had to make a choice.

"I just couldn’t imagine going back after what we went through," she said.

"Everyone pulled together. I’m very grateful we have the community where we help each other out," Karen Kirt said.

Several families stepped up over the years.

"My mom used to say little angels popped up everywhere," Talia said.

Taking the siblings in, treating them like their own.

"You have a family and then you have Leland which is one giant family," Talia said.

"Kristi, Talia’s mom, was a real community healer. Through all that grief and loss we really feel like we want to connect and help out in any way we can," said Arden Wilson.

And now every summer people flock to Nedows Bay for a triathlon in honor of Kristie, put on by those who love her most. Talia, thinking about her mom as athletes cross the finish line.

"That’s where I see her and that’s where I feel her the most," Talia said.

Over the past couple years the triathlon has raised $12,000 for cancer research.

It’s this weekend, and you can still sign up. For more information, click here.

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