The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and East Fork firefighters and paramedics raised at least $13,800 in donations and played dodgeball to a packed gym Friday night at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in support of Elisa and Jon Storke and their son, Dylan.
The fundraiser’s goal was to raise $21,000 for college tuition for 9-month-old Dylan so that he can attend the University of Nevada, Reno, where his mother is a student and professor. Elisa Storke, 34, was diagnosed with cancer in November last year and has had to take time off from studying and teaching. She is the wife of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office investigator, Jon Storke.
As Elisa looked over the gym’s balcony and saw the bleachers full of Carson Valley residents, she said the support from the community has been overwhelming.
“I feel so much love and support from the community,” she said. “It really boosts my spirits. I can’t feel sorry for myself when there is so much positivity in the room.”
Although her husband is an investigator with the sheriff’s office, Elisa said that she could not choose sides.
“I’m so touched that all these guys came out to support our family,” she said. “I know I should be rooting for the sheriff’s office but I’m rooting for both teams.”
After several rounds of dodgeball — and a time-out due to donuts placed in the center of the court by firefighters and paramedics — the East Fork team reigned victorious over the sheriff’s office and won first place in the dodgeball tournament.
Donuts and friendly competition aside, team members from both the sheriff’s office and the firefighters-paramedics recognized that the night was about community and helping a fellow resident.
Firefighter-paramedic Brian Trute said his department has a good working relationship with the sheriff’s office and that he was glad to help.
“If one of their family needs help then that means one of our family needs help,” Trute said. “They’re there for us and we’re there for them.”
Sgt. Bernadette Smith coordinated the event in conjunction with Trute which included donated food and drinks, raffle items and a silent auction in addition to the game.
“It’s amazing how this culminated,” Jon Storke said. “I’m very appreciative of her and East Fork.”
Smith estimated that about 300 people attended the fundraiser.
“I didn’t know we’d have so many people,” she said. “As the event got closer, every one was talking about it. I would be out in uniform visiting businesses and people would be handing me gift certificates and donating stuff.”
Trute noticed the same reaction in town Friday before the fundraiser.
“It seems like everywhere I went people knew about this and that made me feel great,” he said. “It reminded me of why I love the Carson Valley. It really is a close-knit community.”
Before the night was over, both teams met in the center of the court to present Elisa with a bouquet of roses and to cheer her and her family on in their battle against cancer. The crowd chanted “Go, go, go, Elisa! Fight, fight, fight, Elisa!”
The Storkes live in Reno.