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Bike Benefit Honors Late West Michigan Educator


Playing kazoos and riding bicycles, more than 260 people braved rainy and cold conditions earlier this month to honor a beloved West Michigan Christian educator.

The “Bike Out Loud” event honored the memory of Jeff Looman, longtime band director at Calvin Christian Schools in Grandville, Mich., who was killed a year ago when he was struck by a car while riding his bike. Looman was a member of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church.

“He impacted so many people,” said Dave Ellens, Looman’s brother-in-law. “He had so many students throughout the years, and he always pushed them and helped them strive to be their best.”

Participants gathered at Millennium Park in Grand Rapids and cycled routes ranging from three to 30 miles for the memorial fundraiser.

It was at Looman's funeral that Ellens and several others came up with the idea of a benefit bike ride to honor him. Half of the proceeds from the ride went to Volunteers in Service, a Christian nonprofit organization Ellens serves as co-executive director.

“We connect community needs with faith-based volunteers, and we provide training and coaching for church leaders, particularly deacons,” Ellens said of VIS, which was founded by classes (regions) of the Christian Reformed Church more than 25 years ago.  VIS currently provides diaconal support to all churches in the [Grandville] classis, he said.

The remaining half of the funds raised went to support the music program at Calvin Christian. High school principal Barb Engbers remembers Looman as someone who lived his faith “out loud.”

“If you met him, you were immediately welcomed into his circle of friends,” Engbers said. “He loved and enjoyed people--all kinds of people. He would have been humbled by this gathering.”

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