For much of his life, USD 490 School Resource Officer Tyson Nielson has been the giver of help, not the recipient. However, this time, as he has survived cancer and accumulated exorbitant medical bills, the community of El Dorado is rallying to help him.
A couple of months ago, Nielson injured his leg while responding to an incident at a high school football game. He went to the doctor and it was discovered that he had Adamatinoma Cancer in his right leg. The lower part of his leg was amputated last week, the cancer was removed and Nielson is learning to walk on a prosthetic leg.
The Grizzly Bowl, 307 S. Haverhill Road, is hosting a “Bowling 4 Tyson” fundraiser this evening. From 6 to 8 p.m., a $20 ticket will pay for bowling, bowling shoes, a shirt, pizza and soda. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. a New Year’s Eve party will take place. A $25 ticket will buy four hours of bowling, bowling shoes, a shirt, pizza and soda with all the proceeds from ticket sales going to Nielson and his family.
There will also be a silent auction, a raffle and 15% of the food sales will go toward Nielson and his family.
“He has spent his life trying to protect people who are vulnerable,” Sharon Wilkinson said. “Now he’s on the other side of that and I think that’s why the community is wrapping itself around him.”
As an SRO, Nielson has to build a special relationship with every student in the schools he works in. That would be all USD 490 schools from elementary through middle and high school. But he said he has a special place in his heart for special needs students.
“Some of them can’t stick up for themselves,” he said. “I don’t tolerate any kids picking on them. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. They don’t have the capacity to realize when someone’s taking advantage of them. So I will be the voice that sticks in so they don’t fall victim or prey.”
Nielson has been working with Wilkinson’s daughter, Anna - a special needs child - since she was attending Skelly Elementary. Now she is a freshman at the high school and continues to see Nielson.
“He formed a connection with Anna even in grade school,” Wilkinson said. “She knew when she saw his face it was a friendly face. She was at ease. I do feel like he realized that she was vulnerable.”
Nielson said Anna is “a very loving young lady. I can tell instantly if she’s having a bad day, if she needs alone time or a little extra cheering up.”
Wilkinson said when Anna was little, she had brain cancer and the community, including Nielson, stepped up to help her family. Now Wilkinson feels like she’s giving back.
“The fact is that El Dorado comes together when someone is in need,” Wilkinson said.
Nielson, who plans to return to work full-time once he has learned to walk with his prosthetic leg, said he is thankful for the help his family has received from people in the community.
“There will never be enough time in the day for us to say thank you to every single person,” he said.
— Jeff Guy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org