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Josh

A benefit dinner to support the Josh Casten Celebration of Life Fund will be held Aug. 17.


Josh Casten loved to ride his BMX. Here he is, above, at the BMX track in younger, healthier days.Most everyone in Molalla knows Josh Casten’s story, and many have pitched in to help him and his family during the past year.

Now, friends are asking for more help with a fundraiser as Josh fights for his life.

Josh was an active 15-year-old in the summer of 2012 when doctors informed him that he had a rare tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, and that it was terminal.

The doctors told Josh he had perhaps six months to live. The incurable tumor is located in the middle of the brain stem, where the cerebrum connects with the spinal cord, making surgical removal impossible.

A boy who particularly enjoyed fishing and BMX riding, Josh chose to not accept the terminal diagnosis. He fought the battle of his life, undergoing surgery, radiation and daily chemotherapy to try to control the tumor. He decided that he was never giving up on new treatment options.

Even though he understood that his cancer was terminal, he was determined to enjoy living by doing the things that he loves, like spending time with his family and fishing.

Josh Casten, with eyepatch, gets a lift from his friend Jesse Kelly earlier this year.Now, a year later, Josh is very sick, and last week he came home from the hospital for what may be the last time, said family friend Chip Dickinson.

Josh’s grandparents adopted him eight years ago and eventually took in his two younger brothers as well.

“So they have their hands full,” Dickinson said.

Josh Casten’s grandmother, Rhonda Ruppel, works at PGE, but after using up all her sick leave and vacation time to be home for Josh, she has been on unpaid leave to care for him. Then his grandfather, Dan, recently lost his job.

In the past year, Josh’s friends, family and community have pulled together to help the family out financially, holding several fundraisers.

Now friends are organizing what may be the biggest fundraiser of all, the Josh Casten Celebration of Life Fund Dinner.

The benefit dinner will be held Saturday, Aug. 17 at Farmstead Restaurant at Arrowhead Golf Course. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. followed by a silent auction and live music. Cost for the spaghetti dinner with salad will be $10 a plate. There will also be donation jars on every table, with the money going directly to the Josh Casten Celebration of Life Fund

Dickinson, who has been canvassing the town for donations to the silent auction, said business owners are happy to pitch in and help.

“This town has been unbelievable,” he said. “Everyone says ‘whatever you need.’” Businesses have donated everything for the auction from auto parts to a basket of dental supplies, and Dickinson is still out there looking for more donations.

As Josh’s next door neighbor and family friend, he also helps out when needed.

“We brought Josh home from the hospital yesterday,” Dickinson said Friday. “There’s nothing else they can do for him now. It’s pretty hard when a 16-year-old boy gets handed the death sentence.”

An account is set up at U.S. Bank. Those who want to donate to the account can get the tax number for their donation, if they need it, by calling Dickinson at 503-250-2530. Every penny of the fund goes to the Casten family, he said.

“If we can just make some money to help them pay for the funeral and some big expenses,” that would be something, he said.

Josh is getting hospice care at home. He can no longer lift himself off the bed, and he can’t walk. His friends are hoping the hospital will provide a piece of equipment that will help his grandmother lift and move him.

“It took three of us men to lift him off his bed and carefully put him in his wheelchair so he could go out in the front lawn for a little while,” he said. “Josh really wanted to be outside.”

In the past year, friends have held several fundraisers to help the family pay for medical expenses and family needs. The last big fundraiser brought in $20,000, he said.

“Everyone has pulled together to help this boy,” Dickinson said.

Josh will donate his brain to OHSU at his death.

“He thought if he can help one other child by donating it to research, he has done his job,” he said. That’s a type of cancer the doctors know nothing about and there is no cure for it. But he’s fought it out,” he said.

To donate directly to the Josh Casten Celebration of Life Fund at the Molalla U.S. Bank, contact the bank. To get a tax ID number for the donation, call Dickinson at 503-250-2530.



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