Community invited to pray for Triston Tjoelker, Jude Veltkamp
LYNDEN — As the signs of a political season come to an end, in Lynden a different sign will continue. It says “#prayforJude #prayforTriston.”
The two young men are Triston Tjoelker, 20, son of Lincoln and Jada Tjoelker, and Jude Veltkamp, 18, son of Trevor and Jody Veltkamp. Jude, a 6-1 former soccer and football player at Lynden Christian High School, is listed on the roster of this fall’s Whitworth University football team.
They are both battling cancer.
According to the Ronald McDonald House site, Triston was in his freshman year at Central Washington University when he went for a run one evening in May 2019 and suddenly collapsed. His leg had mysteriously broken. A friend drove him to the nearest hospital in Ellensburg. From there they moved on to Seattle Children’s Hospital to see experts. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer in and around the bones.
Family friend and sign organizer Darin DeYoung explains about Veltkamp: “Jude was just beginning his freshman year this fall at Whitworth University when diagnosed in October.” His also is a bone cancer.
“Both young men are fighting a battle for their lives, and secondarily for any potential limb preservation, as in both cases the cancer is in one of their legs,” DeYoung said. “The power of prayer is real, and we ask that you join us in praying for everyone in our community battling this terrible disease.”
The Veltkamps are close family friends of DeYoung, who said he wanted to come up with a visual way to support them — and all those fighting cancer in our community — through some type of sign.
After Jude’s diagnosis, the DeYoungs became aware of Triston.
“I shared the idea for the signs with my wife Niki and several other family and friends,” he said. “Everyone was encouraging. Before moving forward, we wanted a blessing from both families on the sign idea. Initially, both families were somewhat hesitant, as they recognize that many in our community face similar challenges. However, they were both gracious enough in support of the signs, not only for their sons, but for the attention they can bring to all of those in our community affected by this terrible disease, cancer.”
Once they got the go-ahead, DeYoung contacted staff at Special-T Signs in Bellingham, for design, creation and delivery of 500 signs — within 48 hours. Also, a message was shared on social media at noon on Oct. 23.
For anyone else wishing to add a sign to their business or home, the signs are available for free on the front porch or out by the tree at 1218 Front St.
“By that first evening, over 200 signs were gone,” he said. “It was amazing. In the two weeks since, another 175 have been picked up and spread across town.”
There were still about 125 signs left early this week, and it’s hoped that the rest will be picked up to go into various yards.
“We chose Psalm 103 for the signs because of how it reminds us of God’s fatherly heart, teaches us how to face our human frailty, and points us to God’s covenant commitment to us in Jesus Christ — forever!” DeYoung said.
A Go Fund Me page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/triston-tjoelker-sarcoma-cancer-fund) has been created to support the Tjoelker family, and $18,070 has been raised toward a $25,000 goal.
The Veltkamps are using a Caring Bridge site (https://www.caringbridge.org/public/judeveltkamp). Both families also share updates via Facebook.