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Bowling for Tonya

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Tonya Chesher moved to New Castle in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

Now, her family is looking to the community that she loves for help while Tonya fights cancer.

A week before Thanksgiving last year, Tonya went to the emergency room because of headaches and neck pain. Doctors there found a mass on the right side of her neck.

Twelve days later, Tonya was diagnosed with neck cancer, Mucinous Adenocarcinoma.

This is a rare form of cancer, and it doesn’t yet have a cure.

Until recently, Tonya was a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Westminster Village in Muncie.

Tonya had to resign from the job after six years so that she could focus on chemotherapy and radiation treatments to fight the disease.

Tonya had to apply for disability after leaving her CNA job in January. She expects to wait at least five months before getting any assistance. Until then, doctors bills and the costs for treatments and medicine will keep piling up.

The community immediately reached out to help the Cheshers.

“I have never in my years seen a community pull together like they do here in New Castle! It’s totally breathtaking!” Tonya said.

Tonya’s daughter, Adrian Locke, and her daughter-in-laws, Ashley and Brittany Chesher, decided to surprise Tonya with a community bowling event at Rose City Bowl as a way to possibly help with some of the growing medical bills and living expenses.

“She is one of the most caring, big-hearted women you will ever meet,” Ashley said. “She will do anything for anyone and always puts others first. She is very family-oriented and loves her family more than anything. She is such a strong woman!”

“Bowl For Tonya” takes place from 2-4 p.m. March 3 at Rose City Bowl.

Tickets for adults are $20 each, children under 12 can participate for $15. Tickets include two hours of bowling and shoe rental.

Bowlers can also buy #TonyaStrong bracelets and T-shirts to help the family.

Besides bowling the lanes, there will be a photo booth, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction and basket raffles.

Teresa Winchester and Diana Garrard Coy from Action Staffing stepped up to support Bowl For Tonya by donating a basket for the basket raffle.

“They have been amazing at helping get donations together from other local businesses, as well,” Ashley said.

The Metronet office in New Castle also has flyers at each desk promoting the fundraiser to help Tonya Chesher.

“We were not expecting such an amazing response that we have got from the community so far,” Ashley said. “We have had many local businesses reach out to us wanting to donate to our cause.”

All the proceeds will go to Tonya and her husband to help with medical bills and living expenses during her fight.

“I told my husband even if this fundraiser did not raise anything, it’s special because of everyone that has pulled together to make this day happen!” Tonya said. “There has been a huge outreach from businesses, friends, family and our community coming together to make this day special for us!”

Ashley said it is truly amazing how people are still willing to come together to help a fellow citizen in need during an extremely difficult time in their life.

“It’s been phenomenal and our hearts are so full of love for each and everyone that has helped us and have been there for us through this hard time in our lives,” Ashley said. “Whether it’s been through prayers, gift baskets, gift cards, money, food or even a text just to see if we need anything, it has been truly amazing.”

The Cheshers and Lockes are thankful for every business that has offered to help make Bowl For Tonya a success.

Local businesses and individuals can still donate to the silent auction. Donations can include gift cards or gift certificates or any other item that can be auctioned off. 

“The biggest thing anyone can do to help would be to come to the event and support Tonya on this tough journey she has ahead of her,” Ashley said. “She has so much love and appreciation to give to everyone that has helped make this event successful, and she would love the opportunity to be able to show that appreciation to those who are able to come out.”

Bowl For Tonya takes place from 2-4 p.m. March 3 at Rose City Bowl, 550 S. Memorial Dr., New Castle.

For more info, search for the “Bowl For Tonya” event on Facebook.

Supporters can also call Ashley Chesher at 765-465-9853, Brittany Chesher at 765-520-5120 or Adrian Locke at 765-748-8991 for more info about making donations.