Tim Gjoraas’ life has rapidly changed over the past year and a half since he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
The 45-year-old teacher from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, started chemotherapy treatments when he was diagnosed last year, but in July doctors told him he had only months left to live.
“I found out I was not going to win the fight,” Gjoraas told CNN on Monday.
In July, after teaching for 22 years, he made the tough decision to pack up his classroom at Washington High School and retire to spend more time with his wife and three children. Gjoraas shared the news on social media, and since then, the community has rallied around his family.
“My community has really gone to bat for my family and I over and over and over,” he said.
People organized fundraisers for the family, and most recently a dozen people came over to help paint the outside of his house – something Gjoraas wanted to do for his wife.
Gjoraas, a craft beer enthusiast, said he mentioned the idea to his friend, retired teacher Doug Rinken, over drinks. Gjoraas and his family have lived in the home for more than 20 years and he said it was time for it to be repainted.
“I just asked him if next summer, which I probably won’t be here for, if he can paint it for my wife,” he said.
The Gjoraas family wouldn’t have to wait till next year. Rinken organized about a dozen other teachers and friends to help paint the brown house blue – a color that Gjoraas’ wife, Lisa, picked out.
“You want to help in any way you can, but you know that whatever you do, it isn’t going to be enough,” Rinken told the Argus Leader, the local newspaper, on Saturday. “Even this what we’re doing today, it isn’t going to change anything, but I just hope it makes him feel a little more comfortable. It maybe makes us feel a little better too.”
It took the group a little over half a day to paint the house. Then they cracked open some beers and shared stories.
Gjoraas said he is very appreciative of all the support the community and friends have given his family. He said he is soaking up all the memories he can get with his family and having a beer with friends on days he feels good.