Yelm community raises $15K for Lacey woman fighting cancer

Local businesses organized a fundraiser last week


The week of March 9, 2024, was one of the toughest weeks of Edith Vanderwal’s life. While watching her son’s soccer game in Aberdeen, the Lacey woman fell down a few sets of bleachers, and after heading to the emergency room, she learned she had fractured her pelvis, right scapula, L5 and T2 vertebrae.

However, through the computed tomography (CT) scan, Vanderwal also found out that she had breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She was told by her oncologist that she will have to receive some sort of treatment or medication for the rest of her life. On March 22, she had surgery to get a port placement in her chest.

“Everything has been overwhelming. I’ve been surrounded by so much love. I am blessed to have people by my side showing me love, support and encouragement,” Vanderwal wrote in her CaringBridge online journal on March 19. “Thank you to everyone who is there for me. Every day I wake up and thank God for giving me another day. I will beat this!”

Several businesses in Yelm learned of Vanderwal’s story through her fiancé, Nick Bishop, Lacey. Yelm’s Kayla Walker, owner of The Riot, and her husband are longtime friends of Bishop’s, and she quickly went to work organizing a fundraiser to support the Lacey couple and their four children.

Walker contacted 507 Taproom and Filling Station to host the event on Sunday, April 14, and collected raffle items and donations from several businesses, including Dancing Needles Tattoo, Tim’s Pharmacy, Get Fit Yelm and Worthy Coffee Co., among others.

Dancing Needles, a veteran-owned tattoo studio owned by Hannah Crain, set up its own five-day, cash-only fundraiser in which customers could get palm-sized tattoos to support Vanderwal. Their combined efforts raised $15,425 for her and her family.

“It wasn’t challenging to set this up because of how Yelm is. It’s such a great community, and they were really supportive,” Walker said. “We were expecting a little bit of stress with trying to figure things out so quickly, but we were actually blown away. I’m happy to call Yelm home.”

Blake Kahler, a friend and former co-worker of Bishop’s, was also involved in setting up the fundraiser. He works for Michels Corporation, which donated raffle items for the event, and he said he felt an urge like never before to help his friend in need.

“I’ve never really helped anybody like this before. Good people deserve help when it’s needed,” Kahler said. “I know they’re very grateful for the help and support and everyone coming together for them. I talked to them on the phone, and they were both crying about hearing about Dancing Needles and how much they were raising.”

Walker and her team of organizers asked Crain and Dancing Needles if they would consider donating a raffle basket, but Crain came up with the idea for the week-long tattoo fundraiser, which raised $9,359.

“I don’t know Edith personally. One of the biggest things for us is we try to find ways to benefit our community, so when we discovered that she was part of our community, we felt in our hearts that we should help her. We opened our doors back in 2021, and every single time we’ve done something like this, this community always shows up.”

The Hogue & Moore Band and several other local performers were on hand to entertain the crowd at 507 Taproom and Filling Station. Geoff Moore, lead singer of the Hogue & Moore Band, even went to Dancing Needles to participate in the tattoo fundraiser.

“Kayla reached out to us and asked if we would participate, and we said we’d do it for free,” he said. “Getting the tattoo was another way to pitch in. It will always mean something to me.”

Jason Johnson, the percussionist of the band, said he was proud of how the Yelm community came together for a family that they may not even know or have a connection to.

“I think it speaks largely of the family here in Yelm. Yelm is a family. Yelm helps each other, and we try to do what we can to support each other,” he said. “I have family members who are cancer survivors, and so I wanted to support. That’s what this band does.”

Vanderwal often shares in her CaringBridge journal what she is grateful for despite the tribulations of her chemotherapy treatment, which began on March 25. In her most recent post on March 27, she thanked her friends and loved ones who donated and supported her and her family. She added that the best way to donate is through Venmo, @EdithMG or @Nicholas-Bishop-6, or Cashapp, $ediemartell or $commonthread. 

“I can’t thank you enough for everyone that has already donated funds to us, brought us meals, flowers, shown up to give hugs. I’m forever grateful,” Vanderwal wrote. “It means the world to us. The amount of love, support and encouragement has been immense and we gratefully appreciate it.”

To follow Vanderwal’s journal, visit