WHEATLAND – He sells cars. He loves people. He loves life. He remains positive in the midst of a devastating cancer diagnosis.
North Dakota native and current Wheatland resident, Briant Hopfauf who works at Laramie Peak Motors, was recently diagnosed and is undergoing treatment for stage-4 liver cancer.
Hopfauf is a fighter and loves life and all the people that are a part of it. He refuses to quit working, partially because he still needs a paycheck and partially because it keeps him close to his work family and keeps his mind off the monster at his door.
He has fond memories of growing up in North Dakota and being out in the splendor of nature.
“You live on the Missouri River and you grow up fishing,” he said. “Outdoorsy. I enjoyed that kind of stuff and rodeos, demolition derbies, summertime, swimming at the swimming pool.”
He left Mandan, North Dakota, where he was attending high school in 1975. He made the 160 mile trip to Wibaux, Montana, to live with his father and graduated from Wibaux High School in 1977.
After high school, the boom and the thing to do when you lived out west was going to the oil fields.
“After high school I went straight into the oil field and stayed in the oil field and different aspects of it, between oil rigs, seismography and oil exploration,” Hopfauf said. “I worked on an oil rig and we drilled deep holes in the ground. My primary job started out on the floor and then worked on all the motors on the rig.”
Hopfauf had to learn about diesel engines and maintenance on the job and learned while on the job.
“You just learn as you go,” he said. “The higher up you want to go, the more you learn quicker.
From 1977 to 1992 Hopfauf worked in the oil field and then moved to Wheatland where he was involved in construction and while doing a roofing job after a hailstorm, he injured his back so severely that he required surgery and was out of work for three years.
The doctors advised against him going back into construction, and when that door was tightly closed and locked, another opened up at Laramie Peak Motors where Hopfauf has been for the past 15 years. The job has agreed with him and he found a home.
“The people are just wonderful,” Hopfauf said. “I learned computer skills that I had none of and I do a lot of that now for work. It’s a great family-oriented business. Chuck has been more than anyone could ever expect for a leader and a boss. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve met a lot of new people.”
With a cancer diagnosis Hopfauf has faced an uphill battle physically, emotionally and financially. The people at Laramie Peak Motors are hosting a benefit for him July 25 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the dealership located at 2305 16th Street in Wheatland.
Lunch is going to be provided by Laramie Peak Motors and along with a silent auction, donations will be accepted.
“I had some health issues that I felt needed to be addressed and went to see a couple of different doctors,” Hopfauf said. “I was diagnosed with a stage 4 liver cancer about a month and a half ago and it’s progressing and I’m not sure I know how long I will be able to work.”
The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and the pancreas, but as yet, the doctors have prescribed no surgery to this point.
Primarily the majority of Hopfauf’s family still resides in North Dakota, but says he is not alone.
“I have received tremendous support from my Laramie Peak Motors family,” he said. “Also, my girlfriend Debbie Wheeler and I have been together for 10 years now and she’s been my rock. She’s my support.”
Upon where he is heading from this point, Hopfauf said with tears in his eyes, “We go forward.”
He also felt the need to focus on others going through similar challenges and said, “Don’t say no to people that want to help. Don’t think you can do it on your own because you can’t. I’ve got a long way to go, but I don’t think I can do it on my own, because I can’t. There’s no way.”
Hopfauf has been an integral part of the community for many years and Wheatland is stepping up to give back to a man who has given so much of himself.
“Briant has been a valuable employee of Laramie Peak Motors for over 14 years,” is the sentiment that appears on the benefit flyer. “He was diagnosed with cancer and we would like to do our part in helping him through this difficult time.”