Community members walk in solidarity for teacher Randy Appleby and his family (Heather Ruenz/The Report).

Central community responds to teacher in need

By Jason Arndt

On a sunny Saturday morning at Westosha Central High School, hundreds hit the terrain to show support and raise funds for a teacher’s family affected by cancer, and more help is on the way.

Proceeds from the Appleby Family 5K run or 2-Mile walk held April 22, which had about 300 pre-registered before the race, go directly to the Randy Appleby’s wife, Susan, who has fought cancer since 2012.

The disease returned this year, shifting to her brain, which forced Appleby, a 17-year physical education teacher to miss time at work to stay at her side through another surgery.

Westosha Central students and staff organized the event about a month ago.

According to business education teacher Melissa Bahnson, who expected about 200 pre-register, Appleby is best described as a lovable teacher to students and staff alike.

“The students love him, he has been a coach in this area for a long time, and a longstanding teacher for nearly 20 years, so there are kids here today that are 10-year alumni that played baseball for him,” said Bahnson. “There are people from Lake Geneva, his church and community, the family is known everywhere.”

Bahnson said funds received exceeded her expectations, noting the event’s preliminary goal was to bring in $4,000, but courtesy of support from the community.

“Our goal was really 200 people, and so we were figuring with 200 people, we could raise $4,000,” she said. “But with some great people in the community, one of our sponsors, Sports Physical Therapy, they gave us a donation to help us with the cost of our shirts.”

The support overwhelmed Westosha Central senior McKenna Krueger-Gapko, who helped spearhead the event to return the favor to Appleby, after the teacher helped her through her own personal hardships.

“Overwhelming,” Krueger-Gapko said, as tears rolled down her cheeks. “It is very overwhelming, so moving to be a part of a community that has this kind of love and support.”

Additionally, Krueger-Gapko acknowledges the love Appleby has for his wife, whom he talks about at times.

“I just can tell how much he loves her, the way he talks about her and everything, it is so adorable.”

Meanwhile, the support has extended beyond the run, according to Salem Lakes Village President Diann Tesar.

Tesar, who is a teacher’s aide at Westosha Central, has worked with Appleby for six years.

Like others, Tesar and some members of her family showed up to support her colleague.

“He is a great teacher and he is loved by all people and the kids love him,” she said. “This is a tough event for him, but we are here to support him and show him that we care.”

Tesar, among others, contributed to a silent auction and dinner in early May at Coins Bar in Kenosha, where funds received go towards the Appleby family.

“The school got together all of the donations,” Tesar said. “For special ed, we put a basket together for movies and stuff and other people are donating some photography that they have.”

Furthermore, two GoFundMe websites have been set up to aid in additional medical expenses.


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