Jeff Holmquist teams with Walser Subaru to honor his late wife Lora
At the end of each year, Subaru of America and its dealerships participate in the “Share the Love” event. During the event, Subaru donates $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to charity. Most of the proceeds go to four national non-profit organizations, but each Subaru retailer has the option to select a charity from their local community to support.
Jeff Holmquist, General Manager of Walser Subaru in Burnsville, lost his wife, Lora, to sarcoma in 2006. For the 2015 “Share the Love” event, he got approval from Subaru to direct donations to Rein in Sarcoma. Jeff and his sales team shared Lora’s story and our mission with potential customers, raising more than $40,000 for RIS.
As a part of this this amazing gift, Walser Subaru will be the 2016 Party in the Park ‘Presenting Sponsor”. Many thanks to Jeff, his team, Subaru, and the Walser organization.
In August of 2005, life was good for Jeff and Lora Holmquist. High School sweethearts, they had been married for ten years. Living in Baldwin, Wisconsin, Jeff’s career in the retail car business was going well, and Lora was enjoying her job as a dental assistant. Besides work, they were busy raising their two pre-teen sons, Devin and Jordan. When Lora suddenly discovered a lump on the inside of her right leg, her family physician was not sure what it was but assured her “it is not a tumor, “and recommended Jeff and Lora take the Las Vegas vacation they were planning. After returning from Vegas and hoping for more clarity, Lora saw a specialist at Regions Hospital, who also was unable to provide a diagnosis.
Tests at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and Mayo Clinic finally led to a diagnosis –
epithelioid sarcoma, which accounts for less than 1% of all soft tissue sarcomas. In September Lora started on chemotherapy and radiation. Initial results in October were good; the tumor was shrinking. But in December, Lora became very ill. She was scheduled for surgery in January, but her December tests indicated that the cancer had rapidly spread, and Lora was placed in hospice care.
Earlier that fall, Lora’s “dream house” came up for sale in Baldwin. The Holmquists moved into their new home in December. Lora passed away in January of 2006. While only for a month, Jeff was very pleased that Lora got to spend her final days in her dream home.
When asked to describe Lora, Jeff offers four words: “Amazing. Great wife and mother.”
Jeff began his career in the retail car business over 20 years ago. He started as a used car salesman, moved to new cars, was promoted into sales management, and is now a General Manager. Jeff believes his career progression would not have happened without Lora. When she passed away in 2006, Jeff found himself suddenly alone, dealing with his own grief but also trying to remain strong for Devin and Jordan. “It was very difficult handling the boys’ sadness. None of us could understand how this could have happened.” Says Jeff. “Over time we began to heal and move on. We understood that we owed it to Lora not to give up and to make something of ourselves.”
Jeff and Lora were not aware of Rein in Sarcoma when she was battling her disease. It was not until after her passing that he came across RIS online. Every year Jeff would receive an invitation to Party in the Park and plan on attending, but the result was always the same – his emotions would get the best of him and force him to stay away. But he was committed to doing more for RIS, and helping families in the situation he found himself in 2005 and 2006. Given that Jeff’s position requires him to be at the dealership six days a week, he does not have much free time, so volunteering was not an option. Subaru’s “Share the Love” event was the perfect solution for two reasons – most importantly, the money raised would benefit sarcoma patients and their families, and secondly, the dealership’s sponsorship would require Jeff to be in attendance at Party in the Park.
While Lora will always be a part of Jeff’s life, he continues to move on. In addition to Devin and Jordan, there are new additions to his family. He married Erin six years ago, and with her came two children, Tyler and Madisyn, who are now 10 and 14, respectively. Devin, like Dad, is in the retail car business as a sales manager for Walser Nissan, and Jordan has started college.
And by the way……the entire clan will be at the 2016 Party in the Park!