BONNERS FERRY — Whenever there is a person in need, the people of Boundary County often find a way to step up and help, especially if that person happens to be a child fighting for her life.
Eight-year-old Paisley Jean Choate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2018.
“She was in remission — we thought — until recently when she relapsed on Oct. 25, 2019,” said her father, Corey Choate.
Paisley Choate, a student at Naples Elementary School, is now in line for a bone marrow transplant and is currently responding to a new chemotherapy that was not used previously, but the financial strain on the family remains.
“The Choate family has been through a lot,” said Naples Elementary School Principal, Harmon Newhouse. “This is round two for Paisley and the Naples staff wanted to step up and help.”
The school assisted last year with a penny war and other forms of support.
“This year we wanted to do something different that got the whole community involved,” said Newhouse.
Inspired by a successful fundraiser that came from another community, Newhouse presented the idea of a silent auction through Facebook.
“The staff was excited with the format because it was relatively easy for the whole community to be a part of it,” said Newhouse. “Because of the community’s generous donations, Naples will look to utilize this platform for future fundraising events.”
The Paisley Choate Online Auction Fundraiser was created on Facebook and it began spreading immediately, with currently more than 1,100 members, and the number continues to grow.
“I believe the turnout has been most impressive, but I can’t say I am surprised. I grew up in Bonners Ferry and I know what this community is capable of when it comes to helping our own,” said Newhouse. “The best part is anybody can get involved by donating, bidding, or sharing the auction on their Facebook page.”
The wide array of donations includes items, food, services and more, including homemade loaves of bread, quilts, spa packages, cooking classes, antique fish floats, fudge, haircuts, and much more.
Clint Gray donated a unique service — a day of chasing cougars.
“No, not the two-legged downtown kind, they’re too aggressive and scare me,” Gray wrote in his Facebook post. “I’m talking about mountain lions.”
The winning bidder will get to spend a day searching for a track in the snow from a truck and/or UTV, and if a track is located, they will put the hounds on it.
“If all goes as planned the dogs will tree the cat and keep it there until we can get there, take some pictures and lead the dogs out,” wrote Gray. “Just to be clear, this is to be a picture taking opportunity only... We won’t be killing anything.”
“I like the format of this fundraiser,” said Gray. “The response from the community has been amazing and I just jumped on the bandwagon with something I thought might be a unique experience for someone. I’m happy to see it looks like it will raise a little money for Paisley.”
The page has brought Paisley Choate’s story to the community and they have responded, whether it was through donation or generous bidding, with many items and services surpassing the estimated value.
For Rhonda Vogl, this touched her immediately. She lost her best friend to cancer when she was 10 years old. Vogl was quick to donate to the fundraiser.
“This touched my heart, seeing this child so young, battling for her life,” said Vogl. “This family deserves to be able to focus all their attention on waging this battle with their little girl … and allow their community to relieve them of life’s other burdens. I feel like just a small cog in a very big wheel … a wheel that cannot turn if even one small cog is missing.”
The auction will end on Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a get-together for community members to deposit their funds for items they have purchased on Dec. 20, from noon to 2 p.m. at Mountain West Bank. People are allowed to deposit whenever after the auction, but they will have a specified time where people can gather if they would like. There will be cookies and coffee provided by Mountain West Bank.
Donations can be made at Mountain West Bank for those just wanting to donate money for the fundraiser. The account name is the Paisley Choate Fundraiser.
People are welcome to join the Facebook page to donate or bid on items at The Paisley Choate Online Auction Fundraiser page.
“We are grateful for any help that God leads people to give,” said Corey Choate.