Shane Wilker wants to give nine local cancer patients a night to remember.
The Idaho Falls resident will take them and their spouses on a limo ride Wednesday to see Christmas lights near Memorial Drive and Freeman Park. Afterward, the group will be treated to a catered dinner and live music.
Flower arrangements have been made; gowns and tuxedos have been reserved; makeup and hair will be done up — the whole nine yards.
Wilker is conducting the event through the Shannon Wilker Foundation, created in 2011 to honor the memory of his wife, who died of breast cancer. Wilker’s motivation: to facilitate the creation of positive memories for local cancer patients and their families.
“When we were going through her chemo treatments and everything, it was nice to have a night away from all the junk. A night of not worrying about any of that stuff,” Wilker said. “In the end, when it’s all said and done, what you have are memories of your family and spouse. And those are the most important things you can hold on to.”
Patients were connected with the foundation through the Idaho Falls-based Teton Cancer Institute.
Since its creation, the foundation has provided $5,200 in gas cards, grocery cards, lodging and medical services, Wilker said. Foundation funds come from personal donations and raffle tickets. All proceeds go to local cancer patients, Wilker said.
“I’d like to thank all the people who’ve helped with money and volunteer work. And I’d like to raise many more funds for local patients,” he said.
To Wilker, the foundation celebrates the values of his wife.
“She was the most empathetic, kind, giving person I’ve known. And when she passed away my perspective on life and what’s important changed,” he said. “I want people to know her story and who she was but also the importance of taking advantage of the relationships in your life while people are here.”
To contact or donate to the foundation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 208-542-6762.