Molalla High School's student organizers again selected four families to be this year's Share the Love recipients, and they've upped their fundraising goal to $45,000

After nearly two decades of steady growth that has seen hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for local families and individuals in need, Molalla's annual Share the Love campaign isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

Last year, the community mega-fundraiser, which was started 17 years ago by science teacher Joe Zenisek and is now orchestrated by Molalla High School students, shattered the previous year's amount raised, bringing in a total of $60,157 to go to four families in need – and it was all done in about three weeks.

"...when we work together and combine our efforts, we can accomplish great things and help other people in need..." -Joe Zenisek

To kick things off at this year's assembly, Zenisek addressed the student body.

"You've gained the trust and respect of the entire Molalla community," Zenisek said. "They believe in you. I believe in you, and that when we work together and combine our efforts, we can accomplish great things and help other people in need as you have proven year after year. I believe in sharing the love."

The students at MHS again selected four families from the community to be recipients of this year's Share the Love campaign, with a goal to raise $45,000, which is $11,250 per family. But if previous years' campaigns are any indication for what is to come, we can expect that goal to be just a fraction of the total amount raised as the end of February rolls around.

Jill Fredrickson

Fredrickson is a mother of two who was diagnosed with terminal stage four metastatic colon cancer in June 2014, when she was 46 years old. Upon initial diagnosis, she was given six months to live, but has lived for more than three years. Since her diagnosis, she has undergone several major surgeries along with chemotherapy, and is currently undergoing treatment to prolong her life and allow her to spend more time with her children, Autumn, 12, and Jayson, eight.

"It devastates you financially…you lose everything." -Jill Fredrickson

She hopes that funds from Share the Love will allow her to not only leave something behind for her children, but also to give her an opportunity to do something memorable with them.

"We haven't really done anything like that," Fredrickson said. "I try to do fun things as much as I can when I feel good, but then I also have to budget for that."

Fredrickson's cancer has rendered her unemployed due to long hospital stays, doctor appointments, and chemo treatments. She is a single mother caring for her two kids alone with no income, which resulted in the inability to afford a car payment along with a long list of medical bills that continue to pile up.

"It devastates you financially…you lose everything," Fredrickson said.

Tamara Rich, who nominated Fredrickson to be a STL recipient, said in the application that she wants finances to be the last thing on Fredrickson's mind during the time she has left with her children.

"With the money she would receive from this event, Jill would be able to spend the rest of her life without having to worry about paying bills," Rich said. "She could enjoy the time with her family and relax a bit, knowing that she has financial support from her community."

"We can't cure her disease or take her pain away; what we can do is share the love," Rich said.

Timothy and Carolyn Wallace

The Wallaces are the parents of three children who were all born with severe allergies that require significant, specific care. William, six, Garion, three, and Cimorene, two, were all born allergic to a variety of foods, including pork, beef, wheat, soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts. In addition, Garion has severe environmental allergies which result in breathing problems and extensive rashes when he plays outside, and his egg allergy is life-threatening. Cimorene was recently discovered to also be allergic to corn and pea protein, which has proven to be especially challenging to overcome due to the prevalence of corn-based sweeteners and additives in a large majority of foods, and it is also present in her liquid allergy medicine. The short list of what she can eat includes fruit and vegetables (other than corn and peas), fish, poultry, and rice.

Being able to afford food for three kids on a limited income is already hard enough, and coupled with the challenge of the kids' allergies, that task has been made even more difficult for the Wallace family. They currently rely on funds from Oregon's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Timothy's part-time income and help from Timothy's parents, who have lived in the Molalla area for more than two decades.

Timothy is a 1999 Molalla High School graduate who then attended Western Baptist University (currently Corban University in Salem) and then went on to work for Bookbyte, a Salem-based textbook retail business, before being part of a wave of layoffs in 2016. Afterwards, the only job that Timothy could sustain is a part-time position at Walmart, which has not been able to provide enough income to support the family. The family's current vehicle has 275,000 miles on it and is not a reliable long-term vehicle for a family of five.

In addition, Carolyn has not been able to work while also providing a safe space for her children, as finding a childcare program that can guarantee a safe, allergen-free environment has been impossible. However, she is a consultant for Jamberry, a business that sells do-it-yourself nail wrap and other beauty products, and is working to build her business.

Their church and Timothy's parents have been helping them every month with rent payments and in many other ways. He is constantly searching for work related to Computer Analysis, and funds from STL would help relieve his family from many money-related stressors until he and Carolyn can find a way to secure a more steady form of income.

The Wallaces could scarcely put into words how grateful they are to be selected as STL recipients and how sympathetic they are to the struggles of their fellow recipients.

Keith Kapelski

Kapelski was recently diagnosed with sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma after it was discovered that he had an ethmoid sinus tumor. His family originally thought it might be a sinus congestion brought on by the Columbia River Gorge fires over the summer, but when he began to have severe headaches, nosebleeds, and pressure in his sinuses, he went in for a checkup.

His cancer is a very rare and aggressive one, and the location of the tumor makes it complicated to remove; he will need multiple specialists to operate along with reconstructive surgery as the tumor has grown large and has dissolved some of the bone around his right eye and the barrier between the sinus cavity and the brain. The doctors, based in Seattle, are planning a radiation and chemotherapy combination to try and reduce the size of the tumor before trying to remove it.

His family is doing everything they can to help, including seeking out alternative care in addition to his current treatments; they have added in acupuncture and naturopathic methods to try and counteract the severity of the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment he will need.

Kapelski is the sole financial provider for his family, which includes two children, Dakota and Paige, and his wife Kathleen. He will be out of work indefinitely, and he is ineligible for short- or long-term disability pay due to his traveler work status out of Hawaii despite working in Oregon for two decades.

"It means not losing the house, it means being able to pay for the stuff he needs." -Kathleen Kapelski

Kapelski is an active member of the Molalla community as he is a familiar face and supporter of the dog and horse 4-H clubs, Molalla's Oregon High School Equestrian Team, Future Farmers of America program, and the Molalla Buckeroo Junior Rodeo. He has helped set up events and practices for the OHSET team and even let local kids use some of his own horses for the season when they needed one. He helped set up the Singing Christmas Tree program by contributing electrical work, which is his profession.

"We thought we were doing so good in life," Kathleen Kapelski said. "We were planning our eventual retirement. We had everything set up, and Paige went away to college. Then all of a sudden, we had the rug ripped out from under us with this tough diagnosis."

The Kapelskis expressed that being selected as an STL recipient has provided some relief.

"It means not losing the house, it means being able to pay for the stuff he needs," Kathleen Kapelski said. "It's huge and we appreciate it…Hopefully we come through the other side and we can be back in the part where we give to the program."

Annie Weishan

Weishan is a co-owner of Smokey Bones BBQ and Catering (the business is currently on hold) and was recently diagnosed with stage three invasive breast cancer. This comes after the unexpected death of her father in March 2017. She is married to Ryan and they have two young sons, the oldest of whom attends preschool at Country Christian as the family calls The Country Church home. They have catered the Country Christian School benefit auction for more than five years, and she and Ryan grew up in the local community and have chosen to raise their family here.

Weishan had accepted and was scheduled to begin in a new job in September 2017, but at the advice of her oncologist, decided to turn it down as it would be best for her health. That meant she would not be able to bring in her share of income that her family needs, and paired with increasing medical bills, things have been tough.

"It's been a rough year, but we've been taken care of and have never felt like we're all alone." -Ryan Weishan

Cindy's Café recently held a breakfast fundraiser for Weishan that raised $9,000, but even with that additional help from Cindy Dishner and the local community, Weishan's medical bills exceed the amount raised. In addition, ladies from Country Christian got together and made the family six months' worth of freezer meals.

"We are so blessed to live in a community that generously helps its own, and in the past, we have been honored to help where we can," Weishan said in her STL application letter. "The support we have received … since this all started has been so incredible."

Weishan finished chemotherapy in December and had a double mastectomy surgery this month, which will be followed by four to six weeks of radiation therapy after her surgery, along with at least one more surgery after that.

"It's been a rough year," Ryan Weishan said, "but we've been taken care of and have never felt like we're all alone."

For a complete and updated list of events, visit the Share the Love Facebook page. Five different colors of shirts and other memorabilia are for sale at the high school and at Cutter's Hi-School Pharmacy in downtown Molalla.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
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Kristen Wohlers
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