Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misspelled Weston Voss' name. It has been corrected in this version.
Lea Madler is in a fight for her life against small-cell carcinomathe and the small community of Gladstone refuses to let her fight alone.
In most pubs serving your local community means buying a round, but inside the Gladstone pub patrons can help one of their own by placing their hard earned money in a jar with Madler’s name on the side or by walking over to a table against the right side of the establishment strewn with items for bid. The items represent an array of talents and support by the small community, including a local artist’s beautifully rendered post-impressionist painting, a unique soap dispenser made from Jack Daniel Whiskey bottles, and much much more. All proceeds will go toward helping offset financial burdens for Madler.
Madler, a barmaid at the Gladstone Pub off-and-on for more than four years, has made such a strong impact on the community with her caring personality that the Pub's patrons are rallying to repay her kindness.
“She makes people feel good no matter what kind of mood she is in, always making others a priority and putting herself last,” said Tasha Welder, The Gladstone Pub owner. “She alway been that way, everybody who meets her, just loves her… she just makes you feel good when you are in her presence.”
Welder added, “She'll text me and her other friends and ask, ‘how are you doing?’ even with everything she is going through.”
Madler has been Welder’s best friend for 15 years and as painful as Madler's situation is for her, Welder rose above and went into action.
“When I found out, it was like getting punched in the gut. you know you have to call your friend and be there for her but you just want to curl up in a ball and cry… I knew I had to be strong for her.” said Welder.
Approximately three months ago, Welder started a relief fund with the hope to offset the financial costs of traveling Madler undertakes for treatment.
“Anything we could do to get money so she can afford driving to and from Bismarck,” Welder said. “We have already gone through three or four rounds of items for the silent auction at the pub… it's been an ongoing thing for months now and people will still come in, tip the barmaid and still throw a dollar or two in Lea’s jar. ”
Local artist, Weston Voss, donated his craft to the cause with an original art piece. The eccentric artist creates less than 10 pieces a year, with some of his most prized work representing North Dakota winters.
“We've always had a house in Gladstone but my dad built grain elevators so we have lived all over the country… My family lives right next to the pub and eat there, buy pop there and Lea is just the sweetest kind of lady... so I guess I would feel wrong if I didn't try and do something,” Voss said.
Voss expressed that being compelled to do his part comes from his connection to a community like Gladstone.
“In small town America, everyone knows everyone. The good and the bad. It seems that they always rally in the times of need,” Voss quipped.
Voss will be preparing a second art piece for Lea that will go to auction at a benefit that will be held Monday, Oct. 12 at the Dickinson’s Eagles Club. It will begin at 5 p.m. and will accompany spaghetti plates for $10, a bake sale, multiple 50/50 raffles and a live auction. For those wanting to donate items for the auction, they can call or text Welder at 701-590-8374.
“Every little bit helps. Anybody she has touched or anybody who has been through it, if they have anything to donate that would be a godsend for Lea.” She said. “I’ll continue to go out to all the businesses to ask for their support and I’m making wine racks and tables for the auctions.”
The silent auction at the pub will continue for as long as needed to support Madler. Those who’d like to wet their whistle, play Shake-of-the-day to test their luck, or rack a game of pool are asked to consider joining in on the generosity of one neighbor to another.
“The people of Gladstone are just a different type of people and have just been amazing...her jar gets money everyday,” Welder said. “The people of Gladstone just want to help her so (the pub) will have the tables there until she is cured.”