Community steps up to help Sammamish man with leukemia
August 23, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Garage sale runs today until 3 and tomorrow 8-3 at 26574 SE 15th St. in Trossachs.
New: Aug. 23, 1:04 p.m.
Sammamish resident Larry Church was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia more than a year and a half ago, and the situation quickly deteriorated into a life-threatening battle.
Church underwent chemotherapy as part of his treatment for the disease, which attacks the body’s white blood cells. Advances in medication have greatly increased the long-term survival rate for CML patients, but nothing was working for Church.
He recently got a stem cell transplant and is in the midst of a 100-day isolation period at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Transplant patients have a high risk of infection, so keeping bacteria at bay is a crucial part of recovery. His wife, Tara, will be his full-time caregiver once he’s able to leave the hospital.
However, the cost of the procedure is taking its toll on the Church family. Larry had to leave his job as head butcher at the Klahanie QFC store, and will be losing his employer-based insurance in September. With Tara at his side every day, she’s at risk of losing her job as the head cook at Issaquah High School.
It was a conundrum that drove people like Kathy Boll and Karen Yose into action.
Boll and Yose have known Tara Church for many years; they’re all congregants at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Duthie Hill Road. Boll calls the couple “a good friend of the family,” noting that Tara helped her with her children when they were babies.
“Initially, I think a lot of people kind of stepped up to see what they could do to help, knowing there would be a huge financial need,” Boll said.
“Losing your insurance when you have leukemia is not a good deal,” Yose said. “They have the best attitude about it all.”
In June, Boll hit on the idea of a joint yard sale and bake sale. She began advertising the sale to neighbors and fellow church members in July, and started taking donations in preparation for the Aug. 23-24 event.
She didn’t think the response would be overwhelming, but she was wrong.
“I started taking collections about two weeks ago, and by last night, it was overflowing,” she said on Aug. 23 as people milled about her yard, picking through items of all shapes and sizes.
“We couldn’t fit any more stuff in our garage. It was amazing.”
Boll’s goal for the two-day fundraiser was $3,000. There is also a website – www.helphopelive.org – that is accepting donations. Boll said several service items will be auctioned this week, including hour-long massages, a plane ride and a gun range membership.
Yose said many people in the community know Larry Church’s friendly spirit from his 12 years at QFC, and holding a fundraiser was the least his friends could do.
“I think the LDS (church) community has played probably the biggest major role in this,” Yose said, “but there’s a lot of other people, too, who aren’t members of our church that have participated.”
Boll said the community’s response to the fundraiser is indicative of the generosity throughout Sammamish.
“I see a lot of people, when there’s a need, step up and try to help out,” she said. “It makes me proud to be a citizen of Sammamish.”