Sioux Falls day care community supporting director through brain tumor diagnosis


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — They may spend more time with our kids than we do, making day care providers such an important part of many families. It’s also why so many families at one Sioux Falls childcare center are working to support one of their directors through a shocking diagnosis.

“It’s so important to trust and know that your kids are taken care of and loved just as much at day care as they are at home,” Grand Fun Ally Learning Center mom Kate Joffer said.

It’s a trust hundreds of families have placed in Jess Loe for years.

“She just has this patience that no one else has. I’ve never seen her frustrated with a child, I’ve never seen her, all the children just go to her, they all just magnetize to her. She loves the children like they are her own,” Grand Fun Alley Learning Center owner Chelsea DeJonge said.

Jess Loe is the assistant director at Grand Fun Alley Learning Center in Sioux Falls.

“Her presence in the center is just filtered through all of the rooms,” former GFLAC employee Lauren Burton said.

Her community of co workers and daycare parents rallied to support the Loe family through most of 2019.

“Her husband works for the army national guard so he recently was deployed,” DeJonge said.

But now after just a year of having her family back together, this day care community is once again working to support the Loe family, this time, through the shock of their lives.

“Two months ago now, she started out with just a headache or symptoms of a headache,” DeJonge said.

After weeks of doctors visits trying to figure out her symptoms.

“They thought maybe it had to do with COVID brain fog, which the symptoms are very similar,” DeJonge said. “Then it was maybe her glasses need a new prescription so she went to the eye doctor. It wasn’t until her gross motor really got off that it was like, ok, something is seriously wrong.”

Then came the disturbing diagnosis with a biopsy early this week.

“Jess is 32… But her type of tumor is so, so rare, its usually only children under the age of 10,” DeJonge said. “Two-percent of the diagnosis with this type of tumor are over the age of 10 so its super rare.”

“I’ve heard of Glioblastoma, and I’ve heard of the tumor type and I’ve heard of the cells and the glyo cells and its the worst tumor that could be there,” Burton said. “It just kind of is a punch to the gut when you realize someone you care about is diagnosed with something like that.”

Like many of Jess’s co-workers and friends, hearing this devastating diagnosis quickly spurred Lauren Burton into action.

“I need to know that I’m doing something,” Burton said. “There’s a group of us former employees from the center and then some of the parents, we started a Facebook page: Just for Jess.”

The page is filled with encouraging videos, medical updates and opportunities to help support Jess and her family.

“We pick them up from school every day so they get some time here with their friends the team here, the support team set up meals for Jess and her family…. All the things Jess would normally do, because if there is one thing that Jess worries about. It’s not her tumor it’s not her health, it’s not her house bills, none of that. She is worried about the girls.” DeJonge said.

Jess just started what will be six weeks of radiation treatments at the Mayo Clinic while her girls are still at home to finish out the school year in Tea.

“Every night it’s did you get a bath today? Did you pick out your clothes for tomorrow? Did you get your homework done, as a mom that just breaks your heart right, we just want to do what we can so that she can focus on her health and we can focus on everything else.”

A day care family full of parents like Kate Joffer, moved to action by what this young family is facing.

“My biggest thing is that it could be me and what is the one thing that you need in this time, you need to be able to be with your family, you want to be with your kids, what can you do, the big thing is you need money,” Joffer said.

They’ve already started a t-shirt fundraiser, go-fund me page and are now working together on a big event during next week’s Kingswood Rummage Sale.

“The house is actually a day care parent, we’ll have volunteers every four hours everyday, we’ll have a set up crew and a tear down crew,” Joffer said.

A tangible way the hundreds of families who want to support Jess and her family right now can come together and take action.

“It just kind of has completely blossomed and I mean truck loads blossomed,” Joffer said. “Couches, dressers, cribs, big things, trailers full.”

“They’re just coming to drop off donations, it’s like cool how do you know Jess? She has just touched so many people,” DeJong said.

“The people and the power that we have behind her I think is one that will give her just a quiet determination to get through,” Burton said.

All of the items for sale at their Kingswood Rummage sale have been donated by dozens of families; 100-percent of the proceeds will go to Jess and her family. The fundraising sale begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at 3808 S Morrow Dr.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Jess here, for those who would like to donate. A benefit account has also been established for Jess Loe at First National Bank, PO Box 5186 Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5186.

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