Plenty of chances to help families in need

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Posted: Friday, September 28, 2018 6:00 am

Rich Gehrke’s words hit like a sucker punch to the gut. The Hillsboro-Central Valley announcer had wrapped up his first-half duties calling the Sept. 14 football game against Milnor-North Sargent with the Burros leading 22-6. 

As fans stood up to stretch and trample their way to the concessions stand, Gehrke asked fans if they could spare a few bucks for Bob Wilson and his family.

Standing at midfield scrolling through the photos on my camera, my head snapped around as I shot a confused look up at the press box.

Wait. What happened to Bob’s family?

Shortly after, Gehrke announced that Bob’s infant son Leo passed away two days earlier.

Suddenly, the Burros game against the visiting Bulldogs didn’t seem so important.

I stood there, stunned.

I like Bob, but I’m not that close with him or his family. I had clicked on a photo Bob posted on Facebook only 10 days earlier of Leo napping on his dad’s chest.

I knew Bob and Maggie’s son – a twin along with his brother, Henrik – had spent time in the NICU at Altru Hospital after being born in May. 

But I didn’t know the Hillsboro boy had been sick recently.

Little Leo’s obituary ran in last Friday’s paper. He was only 126 days old. We ran the notice in full, but there was no way in hell we were charging for it.

There are no words a person can offer a family that’s going to take away their pain.

But there are things people can do to comfort a grieving family like the Wilsons.

And, quite honestly, that’s one of the things I love best about owning a newspaper.

We have the privilege of informing people how they can help the Wilsons.

So, roll up those sleeves, readers. It’s time to get to work.

For starters, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Bob and Maggie. It can be found online at

There are other ways to contribute as well.

People with cooking skills can sign up to prepare and deliver a meal to the family via The direct link is

Want to show you care but you’re better at eating food than preparing it?

A fundraiser will be held at the Grand Forks Pizza Ranch at 3750 32nd Ave. S., from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday.

A percentage of food sales from that night will be given to the Wilson family.

If you’re looking to get out of town and stretch your legs – as well as your stomach – I’m sure the family would appreciate the support.

The fundraiser for the Wilsons isn’t the only community benefit coming up in Hillsboro.

The Vets Club in Hillsboro is hosting a fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday for Jerry Tufte, who has been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.

Reporter Neil Nelson penned a nice feature story on Jerry that appears on today’s front page, so check that out and come out Saturday night to support Jerry in his cancer fight.

And, sadly, there’s one more fundraiser coming up – and this one should be a biggie.

Friends of Jody Hams are planning a benefit from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Hillsboro city armory at 408 1st St. S.E.

Hams was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and has been unable to work.

The benefit will include a silent auction, bake sale and meatball dinner provided by the Hillsboro Fire Department.

Jody has been a resident of Hillsboro for 53 years, so the turnout for the Nov. 17 event should be strong. Get there early.

Jody also has been my neighbor the past seven years, but don’t hold that against him. He really didn’t have a say in the matter.

Anyone interested in helping the family can make donations prior to the benefit. Donations can be sent to: Dakota Heritage Bank, c/o Jody Hams, PO Box 208, Hillsboro ND 58045.

So, there you go – a lot of opportunities to help your friends and neighbors in Hillsboro in the days and weeks ahead.

Folks in town have never failed to support benefits like these in the past.

And, honestly, I don’t expect them to start now.

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