Mount Vernon rallying around 'solid, supportive' Stoltz family
GoFundMe campaign, meal drive started to support cancer patient
MOUNT VERNON, S.D. — The Stoltz family has always supported of the Mount Vernon community and its school district.
So when Deb Stoltz was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer, it was time for the community to show its support for them.
“They’re just a really solid family, very supportive of the school and of our kids,” said Eric Denning, K-12 principal, athletic director and boys basketball coach for the Mount Vernon School District. “All three of their kids have attended school here and they are just a really solid family.”
The Stoltzes have been ardent supporters of the school district and the school district in general, Denning said. Deb Stoltz served on the Mount Vernon Board of Education for nine years, and both she and her husband Bob are quick to volunteer to help out with school projects or athletics. They have three children — Dani, Tony and Jordan.
“They’re always willing to step up and help with events going on here. Bob will jump in and referee, and Deb will work whenever she’s asked to work. They’re just good small community members to have, even beyond her service on the board,” Denning said.
After learning of Stoltz’s diagnosis, Denning set up a GoFundMe campaign to help ease medical and other expenses that family is incurring during her treatment. The original goal of the fundraiser was $15,000. As of Friday afternoon, the GoFund Me had brought in over $18,000.
Denning, who has been with the Mount Vernon School District for 27 years and has family who has suffered from cancer, knows how difficult it can be to keep up with expenses when undergoing treatment. Setting up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family seemed like a natural way to let community members step up and help out.
“I just created it for what I thought was a need. I had had several people approach me and ask what we were going to do, and thought this was the easiest way to let people show their support,” Denning said.
The GoFundMe campaign has gone well, but it’s not the only way the community and school are trying to show support.
The boys basketball team has begun wearing wristbands that have Stotz’s initials and a cancer ribbon printed on them. Stoltz’s son, Jordan, is a junior on the team and it seemed like a natural fit to show support to him and the family in general.
“We bought wristbands that have her initials and a cancer ribbon. Jordan is a starter on our team, and we wanted to show our support for her and him,” Denning said. “So we have started wearing those during our games as a tribute to her.”
The Mount Vernon/Plankinton boys basketball team is enjoying a successful season. It sports a 15-6 record and was scheduled to play against Parkston on Friday, March 4 against Parkston in a Region 5 semifinal matchup.
The GoFundMe, which is set up to run through Monday, will help ease some of the financial burden, and the wristbands are a gesture of moral support. The school is also arranging to gather crock pot freezer meals for the family in an effort to help take their minds off meal preparation. Denning also set up that event, which is asking community members to make a crockpot freezer meal and to drop them off at the Mount Vernon School Monday, March 7.
“We’ve done that in the past when we’ve had a family in need. I know how busy it is when you’re taking trips to the hospital and doctor appointments. It’s nice to take something off their plate and it’s an option for people who maybe can’t donate financially. It gives them an avenue to show support, too,” Denning said.
Laura Mayclin, finance officer for the city of Mount Vernon, said the Stoltz family is well-known for its support of the school, its students and the community in general. One family member had even helped out recently at her office.
“This week their son, who is on the basketball team, helped move some furniture into the city office,” Mayclin said. “And every time I see Deb at ballgames she is really supportive of the children in the community and always cheering them on.”
Their character makes the community want to step up and support them, as they have always been supportive of the community.
“They’re getting a lot of people who want to help because they’ve been so good to the community,” Mayclin said.
Weston Frank, mayor of Mount Vernon, said small communities like his are essentially a large family. And family helps each other out when times are tough.
“We hate when something like this happens. It’s always very heartbreaking and we take it personally,” Frank said. “Anything we’ve ever done, or have to do, it seems our community pulls together when it counts. Your neighbors are your whole town here. It’s not a deal where you have to live right next to each other to be neighbors.”
Denning said anyone with questions on how they can help can reach out to him at 605-770-2854.