The Ottumwa Courier

February 17, 2014

No lack of support shown at Jefferson

CLINT BROWN
The Chronicle

PELLA — On Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Jefferson Elementary, staff wore orange to support their co-worker, Karen VanderHorst, in her battle against kidney cancer. Kathy DeVos contacted Sports Page Sporting Goods about the Coaches vs. Cancer t-shirts that were made for the Pella-PC basketball game held last week. The staff was able to have t-shirts made in orange (kidney cancer awareness color) to send the message to Karen that no one fights alone.

“The support I've had here at Jefferson has been so wonderful,” VanderHorst said. “I was diagnosed in August of 2012 and went through a year of oral chemo before I had my kidney removed in August of 2013.”

VanderHorst also commented that every little form of encouragement has gone a long way.

“The staff here would give me cards of encouragement, hugs, offered up prayers for me, gave me meals, and even one co-worker shaved her head last spring,” she said. “All these actions, whether big or small made me feel like I could fight this thing. There were days I didn't feel like I could make it through, but I knew that the kids were counting on me to be there, and I had co-workers that would help me out or give me a smile.”

The sight of all the orange was something VanderHorst will never forget.

“I was so overwhelmed when I saw how many came to the gym to have the picture taken,” she said. “I know that as I continue my fight with my cancer, I have friends that will help me make it. I'm very happy I work with a group of people who care so much for each other. I hope I never have to repay these acts of kindness to these great people, because I hope none of them have to go through cancer.”