Tanner's Team backing Moldens, other families facing serious illness
The legacy of a boy from Sauk Rapids is now reaching the life of an 18-year-old senior at Alexandria Area High School and others with a life-threatening illness or injury.
The boy is Tanner Fuls. Tanner died at age 11 on Nov. 27, 2010, from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of pre-leukemia often referred to as bone marrow failure disorder.
Tanner's Team Foundation was created in 2011 by Tanner's parents, John and Cindy, as a way to help families with children fighting for their lives.
The 18-year-old is Josh Molden. On Sept. 12, 2016, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL. Molden recently received a bone marrow transplant.
John Fuls, along with Tanner's Team board member Amanda Schreiner, presented information about the foundation and its impact to the Alexandria Sertoma Club last week.
As of March, Tanner's Team has assisted 148 families in 38 counties in Central Minnesota, including six families in Douglas County.
"We are more than happy to help out families in Douglas County," Fuls said. "Please refer people to us. If you know of a family, reach out to us."
To date, the foundation has given out more than $116,000 in grants. One such grant, worth $1,000, will benefit Josh and his parents, Pam and Chad.
"I found out about Tanner's Team through our social worker at Children's Hospital earlier in Josh's journey. At that time, however, we didn't qualify," Pam Molden said. "I tucked away the paperwork, though, just in case, not knowing at the time that Josh would need a bone marrow transplant."
When it came time to apply, Pam said that a social worker at Children's Hospital completed the medical portion of the application and that she then filled out the rest along with a copy of their mortgage statement.
"Tanner's Team responded so quickly to our request and will be making a $1,000 payment to our mortgage company," Pam said. "We feel so blessed and are so thankful for their help."
During his presentation, John Fuls, who couldn't actually provide the Moldens' name, said when he received the application from them, he noted many similarities between his son and the boy on the application.
He said Tanner's birthday was March 31 and that "the kid" of the family they were going to be helping had a transplant on March 31.
In an interview after the presentation, Pam Molden confirmed that they were a recipient of a grant from Tanner's Team. She also explained some of the other similarities John eluded to:
• Tanner was treated at Children's Hospital by Dr. Michael Richards, who was also on her son's team of doctors.
• The two boys had the same bone marrow transplant doctor at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Heather Stefanski.
"Wasn't that just crazy that Josh's transplant was on Tanner's birthday!" Pam exclaimed. "It was meant to be."
Fuls said Tanner's Team also started something new last year — Tanner's Breakaway Weekend. He said that the foundation partnered with two businesses in Douglas County to provide an expense-free weekend getaway for families to take a break.
The families receive two free nights at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center, along with a meal at D. Michael B.'s. Additionally, the families receive a $150 gift card that can be used for all other expenses of the weekend.
To date, there have been about 16 families who have taken a breakaway weekend in Douglas County.
Tanner's Team is looking to grow the weekend getaway in Alexandria, and if there are businesses that would like to offer something, they can contact the foundation.
"We have heard back from several of the families, and they have told us that they have had an amazing experience in your town," Fuls said.
How's Josh doing now?
Josh Molden had his bone marrow transplant March 31, and according to Pam, he had one of the largest support teams the staff had ever seen. Pam said Josh even received a visit from his Make-A-Wish celebrity, Eric Thomas, and his wife, DeDe. Josh used his wish to bring Thomas, a motivational speaker, to Alexandria Area High School.
The first couple of weeks, Josh defied the odds by having no mouth sores and was able to eat whatever he wanted, which meant he didn't need intravenous feeding. The doctors told Pam they had not had a teenager get by after a transplant without either of those.
Josh's white blood cell count does need to improve, he has had some high fevers and the doctors will continue to watch the percentage of donor cells in his bone marrow.
"We are trusting God throughout this journey, dwelling in His presence, and we feel our souls being held up with many prayer and blessings," Pam said.
To follow along Josh's journey, visit his CaringBridge website at www.caringbridge.org/visit/joshuamolden.
About Tanner's Team
The Tanner's Team Foundation raises money in a variety of ways, with the largest event being a 5K/1K event each June in Sauk Rapids. This year's event, the seventh annual, is Saturday, June 24.
To learn more about the event, visit its website at www.tannersteam.org or check out its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tannersteamfoundation. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.