‘East County family’ rallies around Elma footballer with leukemia

Several East County businesses and at least two football teams’ booster organizations — Shelton and Montesano — are coming together to support a rival who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Jesus Torres, an Elma High School senior football player, is in Seattle undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Torres started chemotherapy on Sunday, Nov. 1. The treatment could take years. For the first eight months, he will be in Seattle.

Friday night, he wanted to express his gratitude.

“Honestly, I’m just very thankful about how all these communities are coming together,” Torres said. “It’s like the day after (I was diagnosed), they were already starting fundraisers for me, which is pretty amazing. And then hearing about people in Montesano and Shelton … .”

He will be continuing his school work online while in Seattle.

His father, who is staying with him in Seattle and shares the same name, also expressed his gratitude.

“I’m very thankful for anybody who is willing to help my son,” the elder Torres said. “I’m proud of him and all my other kids also. This guy here, he’s very strong and is already planning his life ahead. I think this is going to be a little bump in his life. The support will make him even stronger than he already is. We just want to thank everybody.

“Our goal is to get Jesus all better.”

To show their support of him and his family, Torres’ teammates wore orange socks during last Friday’s game against Montesano. Bulldogs fans noticed and quickly learn why the Eagles were making this tribute.

This week, the Montesano football booster organization is raising funds to help support Torres and his family.

“The football booster program will be collecting donations at the game,” Kristina Hollatz, president of the Montesano football boosters organization, said. “We felt like it would be a good opportunity with a lot of the community being together to get a lot of good donations for the family.”

Several East County businesses are helping out too.

Bulldog Brew, Pub Monte, Gene’s Stop and Go, Coffee Shop, Coffee Coop, and the Rusty Tractor are among the businesses donating portions of their sales this weekend to the Torres family.

“The Shelton (High School) football boosters organization also is going to make a donation and give a gift,” Hollatz said.

Varsity Printworks in Montesano also is selling T-shirts with a special logo to support the family.

“The issue really hit home with me because in fifth grade, my best friend was diagnosed with leukemia and he beat it,” Varsity Printworks owner Kevin Thompson said. “I don’t even know who this kid is.”

He said he’s sold about 150 shirts so far. People interested in ordering a shirt can contact Varsity Printworks through its Facebook page, facebook.com/varsityPrintworks, or by calling 360-591-5250. Get your order in by Nov. 18 to be a part of the first printing.

Tyler Thompson, part owner and general manager at the Rusty Tractor in Elma, says that Torres is an asset to the community.

“I could say he was a good worker, but that’s an understatement. As an operator of an organization … he is what you wish you could get. I never saw him on his phone one time, which is basically a superpower for someone his age,” Tyler Thompson said.

The Rusty Tractor is taking the sales from the top-two selling items on the menu this weekend and will donate it to the family. The business also has been accepting donations for the Torres family.

Fundraising update

According to Elma head coach Ron Clark, an account for the benefit of Jesus Torres and his family has been set up at the Elma branch of the Our Community Credit Union located at 306 S. 7th Street. Interested parties can visit the branch to donate or call 360-426-9701 for more information.

Aberdeen High School will also raising funds to help the Torres family. Visit the Aberdeen Bobcats football Faceboook page for more information.

Approximately $2,400 was raised for the benefit of Jesus Torres at Friday’s 1A crossover game at Montesano High School, according to Monte head coach Terry Jensen.

“You get all caught up with football and you get hit with something like that and it puts life into perspective,” Jensen said. “We have a great community and so does Elma and I’m sure they’d do the same for us. Anything we can do to help the family, we will do.”

Jensen said before the regular-season finale against Elma on Nov. 1 his conversation with Clark had little to do with football.

“Our heart goes out to the Torres family and I know Ron took it pretty hard,” he said. “I know (the funds) will help them and I hope the Torres family knows everyone is pulling for them. It’s not just the Montesano family or the Elma family, it’s the East County family.”

Clark said seeing not just the local community, but folks from across the county and beyond, offering support has been an inspiration.

“The football people are really overwhelmed with the amount of support on the Harbor,” he said. “It’s not just here (in Elma). It’s been everywhere.”

Daily World Sports Editor Ryan Sparks contributed to this report