When Times Are Tough, Lend A Hand Up Is There To Help

Written by: Brady Drake

In November of 2018, photographer and videographer Jesse Hoorelbeke spent an evening at Lend A Hand Up’s annual Thanks for Giving Event. With a wide lens, he helped capture the stories of families who had received a hand up during medical challenges. Little did Jesse know, two years later, he would receive his own diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer.

During the fall of 2020, Jesse first noticed some bouts of high fever and fatigue. Each time, tests confirmed it wasn’t COVID-19. By year-end, his symptoms increased in frequency and intensity. Jesse took another trip to the doctor where tests revealed his liver enzymes were high, leading doctors to believe there was an infection of some type. He slept through most of the 2020 Christmas holiday.

As the new year unfolded, his symptoms persisted. It became increasingly challenging for Jesse to work. Carrying around heavy equipment for even a short time left him utterly exhausted. This time, he was referred to a Gastroenterologist. Through further testing including a colonoscopy, Jesse was informed that he had a serious medical challenge at hand. He was shocked by the diagnoses of colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver.

“My reaction to the doctor was, ‘I know people that have had cancer, my mother had cancer. I know what I’m going to have to go through. What’s next? What’s the plan of attack?'”

Within days, Jesse had a port placed in his chest connected to a pump, allowing him to receive chemotherapy at home. As a result, Jesse’s life abruptly changed.

Now, a couple months into treatment, Jesse remains optimistic that he will benefit from the treatment plan he has chosen, yet he admits it’s a struggle to withdraw from work and activities that bring him meaning and joy. And he admits to mounting anxiety about financial burdens as lost wages coincide with increased medical expenses.

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The Spotlight is Turned on Jesse

Jesse Hoorelbeke

Thankfully, coworkers and friends are passionate about lending a hand up to Jesse.

The team at Spotlight Media lost no time in forming a plan and partnership with Lend A Hand Up, a local charity that helps people host fundraisers and boosts proceeds up to $5,000 per individual/family. In a matter of days, Jesse’s Lend A Hand Up online fundraiser produced significant financial help for Jesse. Also helpful were the scrolling comments. The caring sentiment and well wishes of so many were emotionally uplifting for Jesse.

“We really care about Jesse,” said Spotlight CEO Mike Dragosavich. “He’s a great friend, a great photographer and a great person. We want to do everything we can to help him.”

To help, visit jessecancerfund.com where you can either make a donation directly through Lend A Hand Up or purchase a print from Jesse’s online store.

Cash and check gifts payable to Jesse Hoorelbeke Benefit Fund may be directed to Western State Bank, 755 13 Ave E, West Fargo, ND 58078.

Lending A Hand Up To Jesse And To Others

Lend A Hand Up provides unique and comprehensive resources to rally support for coworkers and community members who are hurting due to health issues. The program is a nonprofit subsidiary of Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF). All resources are offered at no charge to support eligible fundraisers. And, unlike most other crowdfunding sources and online auction platforms, Lend A Hand Up takes nothing away from the giving process. Instead of charging a fee or taking a percentage of proceeds, the opposite occurs. Due to generous program sponsors, donations made to Lend A Hand Up’s individual and family fundraisers are boosted 20 percent so generosity goes further to help coworkers, friends and community members.

“I always loved working with Lend A Hand Up because I know all the good they do for people,” said Hoorelbeke. “But this is my first time being on the other side of something like this.”

Fundraising resources include access to the LendAHandUp.org crowdfunding platform, an online auction site, personal coaching, how-to guides, planning worksheets, marketing templates

and media contacts. Additional resources are provided through community partners. Fundraising champions receive promotional opportunities, auction items, signage, and other perks to increase the success of their fundraisers. Individual/family recipients receive gas and grocery gift cards. Community involvement is the key to hosting wildly successful fundraisers.

”Beyond tools and technology, we provide a caring team of people who provide guidance, enthusiasm and opportunity to enhance the impact of every

fundraiser,” said Jeana Peinovich, Lend A Hand Up Director.

To start a fundraiser or support one, go to www.lendahandup.org, program office: 701.356.2661

3 Things Jesse Want You To Know

1, “Ask For Help”

Although humbling, Jesse experienced many positive takeaways from asking for help. Asking for the input of others who have experienced a similar health battle was especially insightful and comforting to Jesse as he began his own journey. Knowing what to expect helped him prepare for treatment and side effects. Knowing what to expect lessened his fear.

Requesting financial help in tandem with Lend A Hand Up resources went a long way toward alleviating his financial stress, enabling him to focus on treatment. It has also elevated his spirits to know that others were rallying around him.

Asking for help in a multitude of ways enabled Jesse to receive treatment through the comfort of his home.

2. “Get Screened”

Jesse encourages everyone to be observant. Don’t ignore symptoms like excessive tiredness, blood in your stool, painful lumps, moles that look odd… anything that feels different. Check in with other family members who have experienced health issues. Ask them about their symptoms and when they were diagnosed. Get screened as advised – or sooner if you experience symptoms.

3. “Stay Positive”

Jesse believes that a positive mindset is powerful. He offers the following advice to others, regardless of whether you are battling a health issue or not. “Rest when needed, but also take advantage of every opportunity to stay active. Get outside. Call a friend. Work and play as you feel up to it. Surround yourself with people who energize you. Listen to uplifting music. Journal. He believes that staying active and focusing on positives is crucial to getting through bumps in the road and making the most of every day.

Lend A Hand Up To Others In Your Neighborhood.

In addition to Jesse’s fundraiser, there are many other active Lend A Hand Up fundraisers providing you with an opportunity to help your neighbors battling cancer and other significant health issues. Among them:

Michelle Erfle-Johnson

Michelle Erfle-Johnson

Michelle has lived in north Fargo since grade school and has many friends stepping up to help her as she undergoes aggressive treatment for stage 3 inflammatory carcinoma/triple-negative breast cancer. Since the diagnosis in February 2020, her treatment has been extensive, requiring surgery and out of area care. As a sole provider who has had to lessen her work hours as a travel agent due to treatment and side effects, she finds it especially tough to pay medical and other expenses. Whenever possible, Michelle spends time with her parents on Cotton Lake which is her happy place. She is incredibly grateful to her friends for hosting an online benefit through Lendahandup.org and a benefit at the Fargo El Zagal the end of March to raise financial support for her through pasta, pulled pork, a silent auction and raffle.

Cody Binstock

Cody Binstock

Cody is a 22 year old from West Fargo who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while diving into shallow water on the 4th of July, 2020. Cody was flown to St. Cloud, MN were he underwent neck fusion surgery to repair a shattered C5 vertebrae. Cody spent the next 100 days at Craig Hospital, a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital, in Denver, Colorado. Cody continues daily rehab sessions at Craig Hospital now as an outpatient.

Because of Cody’s injury and his ongoing rehab, he has been unable to continue college courses to earn his degree in Microbiology or work as a phlebotomist. Cody and his mom live separately from his dad, sister (who is a highschool senior) and brother who is a sophomore at NDSU. Cody continues his fight for increased mobility
and independence daily. His drive and determination to resume an impactful life are an inspiration to all that know him.

There Are Many Ways Your Business Can Lend A Hand Up

  • Encourage your employees to be engaged in helping others. Lead with kindness.
  • Donate space, food, auction items and/or talent to support a benefit for a local family.
  • Build awareness of current online and in-person fundraisers through your intranet. Post flyers or place copies in your break room. Sponsor and ad or other promotional opportunity.
  • Share jeans day proceeds with a family. Use LendAHandUp.org to review local families who could use some help. Engage your workforce to participate in determining who will benefit from your generosity.
  • Form a fundraising team and contact Lend A Hand Up to start your own online or in-person fundraiser for a local family. Or host a fundraiser to support the program’s boost which will benefit many families.
  • Adopt a current fundraiser as an employee team.
  • Set up a meal train. Shovel. Mow. Offer to bring groceries or supplies.

Brent Blake

Brent Blake

Brent is a husband to Jodi, a father to Brooklyn, and a hockey coach from Detroit Lakes who had a sudden seizure on August 5th of 2020 while driving to help at a charity golf event in Oakes, ND. He was quickly sent by ambulance to Sanford in Fargo where a stage 4 Glioblastoma brain tumor was found. Since his initial diagnosis, Brent has undergone surgery, radiation and chemo. Although he wears a treatment device on his head 20 hours a day, he continues to work full time and maintain a positive outlook. After 30 years of coaching in the area from the bench, he continues to be an ambassador for youth hockey but now gives advice from the stands as a fan attending games. He strives to live his life with gratitude and to help others who are also dealing with cancer-related health issues. Brent’s favorite quote is, “Hope is the gasoline that fuels your faith, and if you have enough faith you can move mountains!”

Bryan Hanson

Bryan Hanson

Bryan, 47, is a husband to Sarah, a father to Kinley, 7, and Kolton, 9. He is also a program developer and a long-term Fargo North Baseball Coach who is battling a rare genetic disease that causes liver failure. In November of 2019, he was transferred to the Mayo Clinic and notified that his only option for a healthy life is a liver transplant.

Subsequent trips to and from Mayo, weekly paracentesis and other medical tests and treatment have created financial hardship for the family. Luckily, Bryan has a gigantic network of friends who teamed up with his brothers to host a well-attended benefit on March 20th at the Fargo El Zagal to rally financial help for Bryan through free-will offerings, a bake sale and a large silent auction. His online Lend A Hand Up fundraiser, active since early November, has provided substantial additional help.

Bryan is known to be a humble guy and a hard- worker who values his family and any and all opportunities to coach youth. Currently, he awaits “the call” when a liver will be available, allowing him to return to the active life he dearly misses.

Theodore “Teddy” Danielson

Theodore "Teddy" Danielson

Teddy is a 3-year old, West Fargo kiddo who has already been through multiple surgeries and procedures in addition to chemotherapy for a cancerous brain tumor. Teddy and his parents, Ross and Jessica, have spent most
of 2020 in the hospital. Currently they are at the Mayo facility receiving chemotherapy and transplant treatments. Teddy is doing very well and keeps a smile on his face as he bravely handles each step of his journey. In addition

to the Lend A Hand Up online fundraiser, a lasagna drive-through was hosted by his daycare teachers at the Fargo YMCA. Another fundraiser is scheduled for Monday, April 19 th at the West Fargo VFW from 5-7pm.

“I remember Teddy’s first day here at Schlossman YMCA. He walked in and was excited to learn! He made friends right away and was eager to get to know them! He was such a kind, loving, silly little boy. He loved jokes and making people laugh! He loved nap time and snuggling with his blanket.

He adored being outside and playing with all the toys. He loved the challenge of a puzzle as well as sitting with his friends and participating in a lesson! His smile brightens the room and his laugh is so contagious! We miss and love you Teddy!

Love Miss Rachel, Miss Alysa, and All your Bruins 1 friends.”

Ava Berthaume

Ava Bethaume

Ava is a sweet 7-year-old from Fargo who battled brain cancer in 2018, only to have it return in 2020. Ava and her mom are currently in Memphis, Tennessee, more than 1,000 miles
from their home. Ava is receiving treatment for high-risk medulloblastoma through a trial study designed to be long- term, lasting one to three years.

Despite the side effects of treatment and being so far away from Elijah, her 5-year-old little brother, Ava is doing well. She is especially happy when she is outside enjoying the warm weather.

Ava’s mom, Ashley Erdmann and her former coworkers at Prime Numbers CPA are hosting a raffle and online auction through Lend A Hand Up to provide financial help for the family. The online auction is scheduled to run through April, 9.

Deseray Sax

Deseray Sax

Deseray, is a Moorhead resident, wife, and mother of two teenagers who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January. Her aggressive treatment has resulted in many weeks of inpatient care, medical bills and the need for mobility devices. Deseray has not been able to work at Eventide where she is known for the kind-hearted way she takes care of others. Family and friends plan to host a benefit in May to show her the same love and care she has provided to so many residents, family and friends.

Kenny Wienckowski

Kenny Wienckowski

Kenny and his wife Dede are active members of the West Fargo community where they raised their children Huston and Shawna. Kenny worked at Outlet Recreation in Fargo up until early December when he was admitted to Sanford and diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Post-operatively, he was doing well until December 19th when he developed hypoxemic respiratory failure and was intubated and sedated. Since then, he has remained hospitalized. Kenny has had ups and downs during his long recovery, however, he remains a fighter and this inspires us to help in the best way we can which is financially. Due to the loss of income and looming medical bills, Kenny’s friends have hosted an online fundraiser and a benefit through Lend A Hand Up to raise financial help for the family. Wienckowski Wolfpack shirts and mugs are still available with all proceeds benefiting the family. Since there is no end in sight to Kenny’s hospitalized care, another benefit is scheduled for May 20 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Fargo Brewing Company.

Laurence “Larry” Larson

Laurence "Larry" Larson

Larry, a husband and father of two active children, has been unable to complete projects as a metal fabricator/ artist through his company P2 Industries since his February diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In January, he began experiencing fatigue and joint pain, but thought it was a virus. On February 6, he went to the clinic with swelling in his extremities. Bloodwork revealed abnormally high white blood cells and he was quickly diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. He was admitted to the hospital and spent 27 days there because his kidneys were failing, having been attacked by cancer cells. Larry began chemo and antibody treatments which produced results, but also terrible and frightening reactions. Throughout his hospital stay, Larry received several blood transfusions, platelets, and fluids and was on the verge of needing dialysis when he turned a corner and was able to go home on March 5. It was the first time he was able to see his children in over a month!

Since returning home, Larry has been struggling with side effects and fatigue. He has not been able to return to work or enjoy camping, hiking or other family activities. Family and friends are planning a benefit this summer when he will, hopefully, be feeling well enough to attend.

Noreen Clark

Noreen Clark

Noreen is a long-term Fargo South resident who was diagnosed with Stage 2A invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) in October. She is an RN and respected massage therapist who has been unable to work for many months due to two surgeries, follow-up radiation and the pandemic. Although thankful for her medical care and treatment, Noreen has severe tissue damage which has prevented her from resuming her massage therapy business. As the sole provider, she is struggling financially to keep up with personal and medical bills.

Noreen’s daughter Mallari and several members of the Fargo community launched an online Lend A Hand Up fundraiser in January which was further supported by a T-shirt fundraiser in February and March to raise help and hope for Noreen. Since Noreen worked tirelessly as a single mom to raise Mallari in a home full of love and opportunity, it has been meaningful for her daughter to turn the tables and help her. Since Noreen’s cancer was caught early, her prognosis is good. She encourages everyone to be vigilant about getting an annual physical.

Wendy Kunze

Wendy Kunze

Wendy Kunze, West Fargo, is a wife, mother and grandmother who recently suffered a major heart attack at the age of 53. Following 40-50 minutes of CPR, she was life-flighted to the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Her life forever changed because every organ of her body is damaged in some way. She has undergone two surgeries to amputate her right leg above the knee and has suffered from mini-strokes which have affected her mobility. She is currently on kidney dialysis and has a long road to recovery.

She will need future heart surgery and extensive rehab to teach her how to walk with a prosthetic leg and complete daily tasks that most of us take for granted.

Wendy has devoted her life to serving others. She is currently employed by Child Support Services of North Dakota. Formerly, she was employed in the neurology department at MeritCare, now Sanford for 15+ years. Personally and professionally, she has gone above and beyond to put everyone’s needs before her own.

Wendy’s family is her number one priority. She has a tight bond with her daughter Amanda and her four grandchildren. Wendy loves to joke around, give people a hard time in a fun and loving way, and has a bright personality that lights up the room! Wendy’s family cannot stress enough how blessed they have been with the support of Lend A Hand Up along with friends and community members who have reached out with thoughts, prayers, and donations.

Henry Domine

Henry is a Fargo resident, distinguished military servant and John Deere employee who is currently receiving treatment for Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Henry “Hank” Domine has distinguished himself as a great co-worker and an amazing friend to so many. Lately, most of his time is spent preventing Glioblastoma – an extremely aggressive brain cancer – from defining him.

Hank has spent 17 years protecting our friends, neighbors, and countrymen via his career in the National Guard. He’s fought floods stateside, and wars abroad. He’s also volunteered for STEM programs which help area youth understand technology. Hank has also spent the last few years working at John Deere bringing green technology to agriculture.

Hank is an active outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing. He’s introduced many people to their first fishing excursion and pheasant hunt. He’s even served on the board of Pheasants Forever, a habitat conservation group. In short, Hank has always been the go-to guy when someone needs dependable help.

Since his diagnosis of Glioblastoma, Hank has been the one needing dependable help. His parents moved in with him to provide 24/7 care and monitoring, and his network of friends stepped up to offer support, encouragement and even a few meals. Hank has made a habit of building and supporting the community, and now needs, I hope you agree, the support of the community to give him a fighting chance of winning his war with brain cancer. Let’s support him so he’s not fighting this war alone.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.