Upstate family finds more than care thanks to web calendar


carecalendarSIMPSONVILLE—For Julie Runyan, an online calendar created eight years ago by a Texas family has been a blessing this year for her family.
Runyan’s husband Shannon was stricken last year with diffuse systemic scleroderma, a chronic illness that causes a hardening and thickening of tissue, including internal organs.
Since his diagnosis in September 2010, Mr. Runyan has become completely disabled. Mrs. Runyan said recently that his condition changes from day to day.
That leaves it up to Julie to care for the couple’s two children, ages 8 and 7, help her husband, and work as a nurse on weekend nights.
Making ends meet is tough for the family, but so is finding the time to cook meals, take the children to the pool and perform many other daily tasks.
Overwhelmed, Mrs. Runyan turned to CareCalendar (, a website created and maintained by a Bortel family. She was able to create a personal calendar that family and friends can log into and see what the Runyans might need, and even sign up to help.
“It’s been a blessing,” Mrs. Runyan said. “With me working all night, it’s hard to come home and sleep and then be able to get up and cook a meal. People were asking me, ‘What can I do?’ Cooking meals, spending time with the kids — I have people who volunteer to come over and sit with (Shannon) if he’s not feeling good.”
Responses have come from friends and relatives, and the Runyans’ calendar received additional publicity when an announcement about it ran in St. Mary Magdalene Church’s bulletin, where the Runyan family worships.
CareCalendar is the brainchild of Dave Bortel, who found himself in a similar situation in 2003, when his wife Suzanne had to be hospitalized, leaving Bortel to run a family of nine children.
The Bortels are Protestants who belong to the Quiverfull movement that eschews all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization.
“People said, ‘What can we bring, what can we do?’ Mrs. Bortel said in a telephone interview from the family’s home outside San Antonio. “Dave’s a programmer, so he put up a calendar, and he thought, ‘We’re not the only ones (whom) people want to help.’”
Since its inception, 85,000 calendars have been created at CareCalendar, the Bortels said.
“It’s very humbling,” Mrs. Bortel said. “We’ve always tried to be giving people, but we never thought we’d be giving in this capacity.”