Love for the Linton’s took on a new meaning earlier this week.

The Jeff and Erin Linton Camas home was turned upside down recently when their four-year-old son, Camden, was diagnosed with an inoperable and aggressive brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). There is no known cure for DIPG.

The devastating news is still very hard for Camden’s parents to discuss. Camden undergoes radiation treatment several times a week, which is taxing on the entire family — both emotionally, and financially. Each day is a battle.

“We’re all very emotional right now,” said Erin. “But, we’re so grateful for this incredible love we feel from the community.”

The Linton’s are buoyed by their religious faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and the daily support system it brings. Fellow church goer, Kristen Gardiner, who’s been instrumental in supporting the Linton’s, said she’s felt all the emotions of pain, sorrow, love, and despair. But, she also felt she needed to try to help the family financially.

“We can’t take this problem away,” said Gardiner. “But, we can give them comfort and know they’re loved.”

On June 13, Gardiner sprang into action, and asked Erica Slothower, owner of Natalia’s Cafe in downtown Camas, via Facebook IM, to host a fundraiser. This reporter watched Erica read the message, and without a second’s hesitation, she agreed to do it.

“Wendy and I just jumped in!,” said Slothower. “We started to make a plan, Wendy reached out to businesses for donations, and we all got the message out. We set a date for June 24 and called it Love for the Linton’s, and used the hashtag #Carnival4Camden. We added the Silent Auction hoping we’d raise $20,000.”

Krista Gardiner, left, was presented with a $14,500 bucket of cash by Erica Slothhower, owner of Natalia’s Cafe. It only represented a portion of total funds raised.

Businesses lined up to support the carnival, and dozens of businesses and individuals donated gift baskets, gift cards, and services to support the cause. By June 24, Natalia’s Cafe was turned into a Silent Auction house, and the adjacent property and parking area turned into a kid’s carnival with food, games, and music. The event started at noon.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Carrie Schulstad, Executive Director of the Downtown Camas Association, which co-hosted Love for the Linton’s. “We far exceeded our goals! The people in Camas are amazing!”

More than 300 people made bids at the Silent Auction and the carnival was very well attended, and even extended its time allotment to 5:30 pm. The auction ended at 7 pm. 100 percent of proceeds would go to the Linton’s. Businesses ate the overhead.

“I’m having trouble piecing together words that adequately convey my gratitude for everyone who helped make today such a massive success,” said Gardiner. “So I’ll just say thank you. I’m overwhelmed by the love and generosity of our community. Thank you a million times over.”

At the end of the day, Slothower handed Gardiner a bucket with $14,500 in cash to deliver to the Linton’s.

“There’s still a lot more coming in,” Slothower said. “The Silent Auction money is still being counted.”

Gardiner broke down in tears.

While the Linton’s prefer to not disclose the final numbers, both the cafe and DCA report “the event far surpassed the $20,000 goal.”

“I love this town,” said Slothower. “We came together for a little boy and his family in their time of need.”

The Linton’s did briefly attend the event, but because of Camden’s condition they didn’t stay long. Erin Linton released this statement:

“There are no words sufficient to properly express our awe and humble gratitude for the outpouring of love and support from our Camas community.  It is life changing to be on the receiving end of such kindness from others, many who do not even know us personally.  The collective rallying power and genuine goodness we have felt has lifted us during our time of heaviness, making our hearts a bit lighter.  We are proud to call Camas our home and feel enveloped in so much love! Please accept our sincere thanks for all the support.”

The Linton Family

YouTube coverage of the Carnival and Silent Auction:

If you’d like to contribute, here’s the GoFundMe link:

Read more about the event planning here:

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