Fall Funding Round is Open!
Applications are due September 14th, 2023
Eligibility and Selection
Recipients must live within the boundaries of the River Valley School District and find themselves in health-related circumstances, through no fault of their own, for which assistance is needed. All applications are reviewed by the 4Petesake Committee, who determine the number of recipients to be funded and the amount that each recipient will receive.
Our recipients are often completely overwhelmed by their circumstances; to be able to provide for their most immediate financial needs is such a relief to the constant anxiety they feel every day. And beyond the financial support they receive, just knowing that they are valued is a priceless gift. People have asked us, “is there any other community that does this?” Certainly, many communities come together to help their neighbors and contribute to fundraisers. But we can’t help but feel that the River Valley community has taken this to a new level. As someone remarked at the Day in the Park, “kids here grow up learning to help out – it’s just what you do.”
Thank you to everyone for making that possible, for making 4PeteSake possible. We are continually amazed and humbled by the generosity of the River Valley.
4Petesake announces Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 Recipients
Tony Cornelius came back to the River Valley four years ago. His late wife had asked him to go
someplace that made him happy when she passed, and our valley was that place for him.
As an Oneida tribal member he sees the land as a living place that gives him peace and
comfort. His connection to his tribal roots, and the strength of his mother’s values which seem to
always be in his mind, keep him centered when the pain in his body tries to overwhelm. He has
faith in the Great Spirit, finds solace in prayer to that Spirit, and has great respect for the life
Tony began his life in the inner city of Chicago where he witnessed the gang and violence
dangers in his neighborhood. Many of his peers from those early years have not survived. He
feels fortunate that at the age of 12 his mother heeded the call of her sister to help in her
bakery, in Waterloo, and moved them to Wisconsin. The influence of his strong mother, and the
beauty and safety of Wisconsin is profound in him.
The people of the RIver Valley, and Tony’s neighbors, are open and kind and willing to help. He
feels incredibly fortunate to be here and is grateful to all who have helped him through
4PeteSake, which he says is a “great, great, great program!”
Tony knows that he has not always been the person he is now. However, he believes that he is
now a caring and loving person. One who found asking for help difficult, and yet he needed the
help. Due to multiple health issues he is unable to work, and the roof of his beloved home was
leaking. He is very grateful for the help.
In addition to the help from 4PS, Tony is grateful for his friends–the one up north with whom he
talks every other day, and the ones he encounters in the grocery store who express pleasure at
seeing him. In spite of the sadness that he can’t do all the things he wants to, Tony leans into
the things that make him happy–the sun shining on a beautiful day, his home, his family and
friends, and the Great Spirit with whom he finds hope and love.
Terry Buttke was born and raised further down the River in Mazomanie, and is now settled in
our part of the Valley, in Lone Rock, where he takes great comfort in the wildlife at the park
across the way from his mobile home. While his low vision keeps him from making clear visual
distinctions, he greatly enjoys watching the animal antics as they move about, telling me about
the deer and the bunnies who keep him entertained.
Terry describes himself as a “happy, good-looking guy” who is easy going and also un-willing to
“take *&^% from nobody!” When things get hard, he goes to a quiet place (when he was young
that meant climbing up into a pine tree in his childhood yard) to relax, chill out, and meditate
until he can come back and try again.
Happiness seems to be Terry’s most likely emotion. He loves his life and while he, of course,
still grieves the loss of his wife just 2 ½ years ago, he knows that she isn’t coming back, and
that he has to move on. One step at a time, he tells himself. He believes that we all should have
a positive attitude toward life. That doesn’t mean that things don’t make him sad. He wishes he
had more money to take care of his needs; his low vision keeps him from working, and he is
very appreciative of 4PeteSake and your contributions which are helping him take care of his
home. Terry has had a lifetime of hard physical work, and now not being able to work leaves
him grateful to the help he is receiving from his neighbors, and from 4PS.
In 1978, Donna Christensen bought a seven acre beautiful, wooded, grouse filled
piece of land between Arena, Spring Green, and Dodgeville and began the
incredible process of building her own home. As a 33 year old single woman who
was working as a wood anatomist (I asked–it means she looked at wood at a
cellular level to identify the different types of wood and match them with samples,
largely of antique furniture, to identify the type of wood from which they were
built) for Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, she searched for, and found, a
company out of Minnesota that sold prefab houses at varying levels of
completeness. Donna had grown up in South East Wisconsin watching her Dad
build and her Mom paint their home and she knew that she, too, could do
whatever she set her mind to. So she bought the structure that needed the most
additional work and began the process of creating her home.
That home provided shelter, and so much more, for the next 45 years. When
your own labor has put the shingles on your roof and closed in the walls, your
home becomes an extension of who you are. Unfortunately, this incredibly self
sufficient woman, at 77 is no longer able to climb on her roof to fix the shingles
like she could in her 30s. And, over time, her special home has fallen into serious
disrepair and is no longer safe to live in. While Donna looks for an affordable
place to live, 4PeteSake has “made it possible for (her) to survive.” While she is
incredibly grateful to 4PS, and talks of leaving something in her will because she
believes that “the road goes both ways,” her heart mourns for her home. She
wishes she could just go home to the land and house where she remembers the
grouse being plentiful in the early years, where she can ride around in her
woods, and where she can read her multitude of books.
It doesn’t look like 4PS can help fix her house, perhaps the disrepair has gone
too far, but they are helping to find her a new safe place and have provided in-
home health care 2 times a week, a woman whose help Donna is enormously
grateful for. Donna’s gratitude is wide–for the life she has led; for the job she had
as a wood anatomist, for the friends she has had, for her dog, Goldy, for her
books, for 4PS. Each story was told with joy, and yet, under it all, is the sadness
that she can’t go home, even while she seems to understand that those days are
Donna’s attitude about her circumstances, her joy in her memories, and her
knowledge about so many things (her brother taught her to fix cars, too…and her
preference is non-fiction books :)) were summed up in her closing statement that
it just “doesn’t make any sense to be unhappy.”
The word that kept coming back to Candy and Michael when describing the last 6
months of their lives is “frustrating.” In November of last year they discovered that he
had spinal stenosis in his neck and was not able to work, or even lift more than 10
pounds. This is a man who can look at a picture on Pinterest of a chicken coop, and
turn it into a beautiful structure without any instructions. He has built decks, a gazebo, a
bed, and innumerable other things for his family in the same manner over the years. He
has embraced his job at Gauger Salvage for over 25 years, where he removed engines
from cars, and did much of the heavy lifting for the local company, becoming a part of
that family. Michael is a hard worker, a dedicated family man, and not one to complain.
He was born in Sauk, moved about a bit, but settled back in the Arena area when he
married his childhood sweetheart, Candy. His grandfather lived next door to Candy and
her family when they were teenagers and Candy and Michael’s sister, Carrie, became
fast friends. One day when she was about 15, Candy noticed Carrie’s brother, and the
rest is history. Their love for one another is apparent and they have built a beautiful,
close knit family and home together with five children and enough room for the now
adult children to still live at home where they can work together and support one
another. They like to camp and fish and go to car shows (Michael really loves cars!)
together and simply like being together.
However, when he lost feeling in his hands, and his headaches became unbearable, his
wife, Candy, felt that he really needed to see the doctor (as I said, he is not one to
complain–he had things to do!). The diagnosis, and subsequent doctor’s order to stop
working immediately and schedule surgery stopped him in his tracks. After many tests
his surgery was completed on March 23 and he has been very slowly recovering ever
since. That word, frustrating, comes in again as he and Candy describe the healing
process…it is slow, and he is still experiencing many of the same symptoms, so more
tests are required. In the meantime, Michael continues to do his physical therapy, try to
go for walks, and follow doctor’s orders, meaning that he can’t do so many of the things
that make him feel worthwhile. No work. No building. No lifting his young boys.
Frustrating hardly encompasses what it feels like.
Candy continues to work at the Shoe Box where her boss, Emily Schlick, has been so
supportive and helpful as they try to navigate his injury, doctor visits, and need for
Candy to both provide what income she can, and do so many of the things that he can’t
anymore. This family is full of love, only one example being that they brought in two
babies whom they have been raising for over 8 years, welcoming in Michael’s mother to
join the family home when his father passed away, always working, playing, and
supporting each other. Now they have had to turn to others for help.
Like for so many, asking for help was hard for them. But after Grandma Mary’s son,
Ryan, suggested that they look into 4PeteSake, they have begun to receive the much
needed help to pay the bills and stay afloat until Michael is healed and can return to
work. They feel sure that without this help they would have lost their home and are so
enormously grateful to each of you who have helped them through this incredibly tough
and frustrating time. It is astounding. They feel so connected to their community through
Kelly Feiner has been struggling for too long. He and his family were 4PeteSake recipients in
2010 and now they have found themselves in need again. They are a strong family, deeply
rooted in the community and used to taking care of themselves.
However, Kelly’s battle with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Mycosis Fungoides has brought him
to the brink of death. It has made the simplest human actions and behaviors painstakingly
difficult, and forced his 22 year old daughter to face conversations about life support way too
early in her life. The family strength, though, allows her to tell his story with hope, and even at
times, with laughter. Char, Kelly’s wife, only wanted our interview to happen when Riley, his
daughter, could be part of it. This struggle has brought this tight knit family even closer. Riley’s
stories of her dad; his commitment to his work, his participation in her sports when she was
growing up (even when he was sometimes wrong, she joked), her admiration of his work with
driving ambulance and fire truck all painted a picture of Kelly Feiner as someone who, when he
is well, brings great value to his community. Our community.
The Feiners shared stories of things that they have been able to do together which brought
them joy in recent years when Kelly has been well enough to participate. In 2019 they took a
family vacation to Niagara Falls, and they were able to walk everywhere and take it all in
together. That trip built valuable memories for each of them. Then, last Spring, Riley has fond
memories of bonfires in the backyard of their house with music playing, s’mores, and the
comfort of friends gathered around. These are the memories that keep the Feiners going when
Kelly’s battles overwhelm them. The stories, and the outpouring of kindness from the
community, hold them together.
The fact that this community has now reached out twice to help him through these health
struggles brings Kelly, his wife, and his daughter all to tears. It has been “very humbling.” While
they feel that they can never say thank you enough, they want you all to know that it is with the
help of 4PS that they have been able to see tiny lights of hope. They are so very grateful.
The Day in the Park is a fun opportunity to help neighbors like Kelly, no doubt about it, but it is
really about all of us turning out to help our neighbors who, through no fault of their own, have
come upon truly hard times. The money raised while you enjoy this summer gathering helps
recipients like Kelly through their hard times.
The Day in the Park will be on Sunday, August 20th this year, starting with the 5K run/walk, 15
or 30 mile bike ride, and pickleball tournament and continuing all day with live music, a silent
auction, kids’ activities, food, drinks, and most importantly, an incredible turn out of you and your
Diana Brown has spent her life exploring. She grew up in Orange County, California and
moved to rural Lone Rock later in her life, after losing her husband, in order to be near
her sister who had relocated here years before. Before moving here Diana had snow
skied the White Mountains in Arizona, and ridden all over the United States on her
motorcycle with her husband, absorbing the beauty of the country from the mountains to
the deserts. Those were amazing, fun, and interesting years culminating in living in
Reno, Nevada with her beloved husband.
Now, as she battles pancreatic and liver cancer, and since Sharon has passed away, the
illness and the regular trips to Dodgeville and Madison for treatments wear her out.
When her pain nurses in Madison saw how she was struggling, they recommended she
turn to 4PeteSake for assistance.
Diana is no longer able to explore the world, but she enjoys the view out of the windows
at Sharon’s house, where she still lives. She appreciates her namesake niece, Diana
and her husband, Bob, and her nephew, Art, all of whom help her as needed.
Diana is incredibly grateful to 4PS for how nice they have been, the ways in which they
have made the process easy, and the generosity of their help. And she thanks everyone,
who, through 4PS, is helping her through this difficult time.
Corey Rock grew up in Spring Green the youngest of Eleanor and Eugene Rock’s eight
children. Growing up in the service industry taught him the value of hard work. He
remembers being a young boy doing the work his family demonstrated–peeling
potatoes, clearing tables, getting the chicken out of the freezer for chicken night, and
always emulating his Dad’s meticulous cleanliness of the Round Barn. In his memory it
never felt like a burden to be in a service industry family–in fact today he says, “if you
ever feel like something is missing (in your life)–help out. Ask yourself what you can do
to help someone.”
In the past few years Corey has experienced great sadness, losing four siblings and his
mother (at 101 years of age) and then his own diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma and its
treatment. Through it all he focuses on the good–loving his pet cockatiels, remembering
his athletic achievements, and looking toward getting to the other side of his illness. He
is grateful to his sister, Laurie, for the support she gives him (although he maintains that
he can cook for himself!). Instead of losing hope, he focuses on what he wants to do
when he is better. And on living now, when he feels well enough to do so. In talking with
Corey, it is clear that making other people happy drives him. He misses the days of his
childhood when he remembers people being courteous and respectful of one another.
He wants people to be happy and does everything he can to listen to the people in his
life, in the hopes of helping them to achieve happiness.
Corey is so very grateful to each of you for helping 4PS to be able to take his focus away
from paying his tremendous medical bills, and put it on healing and thinking of others.
He looks forward to the day when he is well enough to return the generosity.
Information from his mother Tara Hill:
Dreydon is doing AMAZING with the diagnoses at this time. We have his PAN (polyarteritis
Nodosa) under control as of now with the regimen of medications he’s on. He is also the first
and only person so far to try this combo of meds. I’ve been researching and studying to find out
more and as of now we know of only him and one other stage four living PAN patient in the
United States. He is however the only stage 4 that has all of his organs intact. We have his
second annual appointment in October in Philadelphia with the specialists there.
As far as his kidney disease is concerned it is now stage 3a and so for now by god’s grace the
kidney transplant is off the table as you have to be stage 4 and above. It’s more than likely he
will need one in the future but we hold hope that his kidneys may still heal so that wouldn’t be
The couple issues we have is the lack of resources, support groups, and research for PAN. Our
other big concern is that Dreydon will struggle to find good health and life insurance as he gets
older as it’s hard to get once you’ve been diagnosed with PAN. He is eligible for the
Make a Wish Foundation so he’s been thinking of it and what he wants to do for that.
We are currently in the process of creating a foundation to help Dreydon and other children like
him, along with helping to support and give back to our local charities like 4PS. It will be called
Pan Man’s Ripple Of Hope Foundation. We are looking to launch it by the end of this year if all