Community rallies around Garden Valley woman

T o say Wilma Thode has had a run of bad luck lately doesn’t really begin to describe it.

Last
fall, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. That
came as a surprise, said her daughter, Teri Green. There had been no
history of cancer in the family. Thode, who’s 62, now faces chemo and
radiation treatments. An added challenge: no health insurance. Thode
retired a couple years ago after working at Albertsons for more than 30
years. She worked in the IT division, and even did a stint as secretary
for Gary Michael before he became the company’s CEO, Green said. But
since Thode retired, she’s no longer on COBRA and doesn’t yet qualify
for Medicare.

Thode lives in Garden Valley. As soon as the
local community heard of her plight, members organized a benefit,
complete with golf tournament, raffles and more, Green said. The
efforts raised about $10,000 to help pay for cancer treatment. Things
were looking up for Thode and her family, until Dec. 1.

Just off work from her part-time bookkeeping job, Thode opened the door of her mobile home. Smoke came billowing out.

“She
lost everything in the fire,” Green said. “All that’s left are some
steel girders and a sheet metal roof melted over everything.”

The
cause of the fire: good intentions and a faulty wood stove. Thode gets
chilly because of the chemo treatments, Green said. Green’s brother had
come to Thode’s home and started a fire for her so the place would be
warm.

The silver lining, said Green, is that the community has
continued to help out. A fellow Garden Valley resident loaned Thode a
house to live in and is paying all the utility bills. Fortunately,
Thode did have home insurance, but friends and former co-workers have
set up funds at Les Bois Credit Union and Tru Grocer Credit Union to
help pay her continuing medical bills.

Social media is playing
a part, too, Green said. Ironically, she set up her Facebook account
the very day her mother’s house burned. A Facebook page and blog are
helping to publicize the family’s story and collect donations.

The Stagecoach Inn, a
longtime Boise institution and a favorite spot of Thode’s, is also
repaying her loyalty over the years: In December, the Stagecoach’s
marquee advertised the restaurant as a drop-off spot for donations and
paid for a radio advertisement on Thode’s behalf, Green said.