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Shane Wilker, left, Amy Schmutz and Becky Capp standing next to a Shannon Wilker Foundation banner. | Brittni Johnson,

IDAHO FALLS — Shane Wilker turned a devastating trial into a blessing for others.

Shane and Shannon were married for almost 30 years when she died July 20, 2011. She had battled breast cancer for roughly four years. Shane spent the following months after her death feeling “miserable” and drowning in self-pity. Moving on with his life seemed impossible — that was, until one night when he was praying.

He already knew she was free of pain, but he realized she wouldn’t want him to suffer.

“It was like I could hear her saying, ‘Every day, you get to be down there with our boys and our granddaughters, and I don’t get that. You know what I would give to have that. You need to appreciate that,'” Shane remembers the thought running through his mind. “It changed my perspective. I really needed to start focusing on the blessings I do have, instead of the things I can’t change in life.”

That experience was the inspiration he needed to pick his feet up. He decided he’d spend the rest of the time he’s given on earth keeping Shannon’s memory alive by helping others.

To do so, Shane started the Shannon Wilker Foundation. The organization provides financial support mainly for cancer patients, but also for families with other medical issues. All of the donated funds go toward patients in eastern Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana.

“I need to be the kind of man she’s proud of. I need to be as compassionate and help people the way she did,” Shane said. “One of the things really rewarding for me, is the (foundation pays) tribute to who she was.”

Shane Wilker with community members buying gifts for the Christmas Adopt-A-Family 2019 event. | Courtesy Shannon Wilker Foundation

The foundation often works with another cancer organization called the Snake River Alliance Cancer Support Group. The group provides a social platform for anyone affected by cancer. They hold monthly meetings where individuals discuss a variety of different topics.

Amy Schmutz and Becky Capp are members of the group. They know Shane because he’s spoken at some of their classes and his foundation has helped individuals in their class.

“We’re in the same boat rowing the same direction,” Schmutz said of the two organizations.

Members of the Snake River Alliance Cancer Support Group at an event. | Courtesy Snake River Alliance Cancer Support Group

The support group is honoring the Shannon Wilker Foundation by hosting an event Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Apple Athletic Club. There will be a live DJ, raffles, light refreshments and a center where people can write cards of encouragement for Shane to give to people in need. A donation of at least $5 is required to get in. The proceeds go toward the foundation.

“Together we can make a difference,” Capp said.

Both organizations share a similar message. They want people to know they aren’t alone when faced with hardships, and there is hope.

“I realized when you start focusing on others, No. 1, it takes your mind off of ‘Poor me’ and what I’m going through. You realize everybody’s going through something,” Shane said. “When you start helping other people, every aspect of your life gets better.”

Donations to the Shannon Wilker Foundation can be made here.