Mike Wolforth spent his grade school years attending school in Agar, attended high school in Gettysburg for two years and then graduated Sully Buttes. He enrolled in Lake Area Tech’s building trades program. “He had a mother that wanted a house built,” said his mom Kaleen Wolforth about his pursuit of the building trades degree.
Wolforth put his skills to work with Hire-A-Husband construction of Pierre before going out on his own. “I was on my own for 10 years, and then I went to work for Nye Lumber,” said Wolforth about his career path.
Wolforth did indeed build a home for his mom, a log home on the east edge of Onida. He also built a shop house in Agar for his father, Terry Wolforth. Mike has one brother, TJ Wolforth of Agar, and a very special granny, Edna Brunmeier of Onida.
When the opportunity to work at Ringneck Energy arose, Wolforth took it, and he’s been working at the ethanol plant since April 1, 2019. “I thought it was an April Fool’s joke,” said his mom about learning of his decision.
Wolforth says that he’s enjoyed his time at Ringneck. Everything’s been going good, and then one week, I couldn’t go two hours without taking aspirin,” explained Wolforth, saying he rarely gets headaches. “I thought it was just from an ear infection, because my ears were plugged, too.” He decided to make an appointment at the Onida Clinic.
During the visit with Steve Knoble at the Onida Clinic on Monday, August 10, Wolforth was told “something is not adding up right,” and was sent to Pierre where he had a CT scan of his head the next day.
A computerized tomography scan (CT scan) uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of the body that provide more detailed information than normal X-ray images.
Seeing the mass on his brain the scan revealed, Steve sent Wolforth to Sioux Falls where he had a repeat CT scan along with an MRI that evening. “Steve was so great at getting everything lined up and getting Mike taken care of,” Mike’s wife Valerie Wolforth recalled. “He called Mike before he had even left Pierre so he could have everything in order when he got back to town. He could have just related the issues to stress, but Steve went the extra mile to see what was really going on, and we can’t express how much we appreciate him,” she added.
On Wednesday morning, just two days after visiting the Onida Clinic, Wolforth was visitng with doctors about his scans – and developing a pain management plan. He had a biopsy on Thursday and “by the time I was done with the biopsy, the pathologists were 90% sure it was some kind of glioma [a malignant tumor of the connective tissue – glial cells – of the nervous system],” said Wolforth. When the final results came in, they revealed that the mass on Wolforth’s brain is a Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme, a fast growing glioma that develops from the glial cells.
Because of the tumor’s location, doctors in Sioux Falls won’t operate to remove it. “They’re worried surgery to remove the tumor could impact his quality of life,” said Valerie. Instead, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy is recommended as a course of treatment, along with getting a second opinion.
The Wolforths have appointments with the Mayo Clinic today and tomorrow, September 3-4, to determine if there are other courses of action that could be taken to treat the tumor. “We’re not sure if Mayo will do surgery either, or what kind of clinical trials there might be,” said Valerie Wolforth. “We’re going there to find out what they can do for us.”
Wolforth says he’s in no pain right now, even without taking pain meds. “The swelling has gone down,” said Wolforth. “I’m feeling good. I haven’t had a headache in a week.”
When asked if his diagnosis has him planning to check a few items off his bucket list, Wolforth said, “I’ve got plenty of bucket list type stuff. This puts a whole new importance to those things. You keep putting things off thinking you’ve always go time.”
So many people are helping us with so many different things,” said Valerie Wolforth. “We appreciate all the kind thoughts, prayers and actions of both the local community and surrounding area. We feel so very humbled and blessed.”
The Wolforths met on a blind date 12 years ago and have been married seven years. They enjoy she hunting, fishing, hunting, being outdoors, and just spending time with their three children, Karissa, Darion, and Adrianna Osterkamp, as a family.
Friends in Gettysburg are planning a poker run benefit to defray the family’s expenses; the event is being organized by Dustin Lower. Sully Post 79 American Legion is selling raffle tickets at $100 each for the Wolfroth’s 2003 Lund 18’ Fishing Boat with the proceeds going back to the Mike Wolforth family; contact Jason Henglefelt 222-8048 or Steve Stier 222-7837 for details. Other items for sale to support Wolforth and his family are Mikes Fight/Fan Club window decals and shirts; contact Kila Vogel 280-6664 for information.