Pastor, School Teacher Struck With Rare Disease. Family in Urgent Need

David, Diana, and their granddaughter

The community of Holtville, along with the rest of the Imperial Valley, is coming together to support the family of Pastor David Strong during his illness.  David retired this year due to medical reasons from the Holtville Unified School District, where he was a teacher for 31 years.  He also coached the Cross Country/Track teams at Holtville High School for 12 years.  He and his wife Diana raised their son Michael and daughter Sarah in Holtville, where David has also been the Pastor of Calvary Chapel for 25 years.  This past year has been a devastating year to this family, and now the community is rallying to support a man who has given so much to Holtville, and especially to the young people of Holtville.

According to Diana, David began experiencing aching bones and joints about three years ago, mostly after his runs with the track team.  About a year ago, his symptoms took on a rapid progression, and after much testing, he was diagnosed with Erdhiem-Chester Disease.  There are less than 200 diagnosed cases of ECD in the world, and it is extremely difficult to treat.  There is no cure for this disease which causes the white blood cells to multiply and attack the major organs of the body, as well as the bones.  David is suffering the debilitating effects of this dreadful disease and is currently at Carmel Mountain Rehabilitation Center in San Diego.  He is receiving chemotherapy for this disease which acts like a cancer and autoimmune disease.  Since the patients who are diagnosed with ECD rarely live long enough to do any testing of medications and treatments, all treatments, including chemotherapy, are considered experimental, and therefore not reimbursed by the insurance company.  There is also a question as to whether the insurance will continue to pay for the physical, occupational, and speech therapy after the end of this week.  If refused, Diana states that she will bring David back home, where she will need to hire an assistant to help with his medical care.  This, too, will not be covered by insurance.

Special accounts for the Strong family have been set up at all Sun Community Federal Credit Union locations.  There will also be a bake sale at the Turning Point Ministries Car Wash in Holtville on Saturday morning, of which all proceeds will go to the Strong family.  T-shirts designed by Bruce DeLoach are also available at the Holtville Chamber of Commerce for $20, and 100% of the proceeds will be given to the family of Pastor Strong to help with these mounting expenses.

According to Diana, “We are trying to stay strong.  We know that God does all things for a purpose, and we are just praying that His will be done.”  Doctors have been amazed at the strong faith of this family who is facing such sorrow and financial difficulty and Diana says she is glad that they have been able to show their faith and true love for the Lord during this difficult time.  She also stated that they hope they can get the awareness raised about ECD so that other patients might get a quicker diagnosis, and there might be time for some medical trials to develop an effective treatment for the disease.

A special fund has been set up for David Strong and his family at Sun Community Federal Credit Union. Please write checks out to “David Strong Medical Fund” and deliver or mail to any branch of the credit union.

Anyone interested in supporting the Strong family can make a donation at any Sun Community location.