In Search Of…Pajama Grandma Update

An entire community gives back to the woman who's given so much

We first met Diane Pischke back in 2013. At the time, this Whitehall resident was getting some much deserved praise for an idea she got in the shower. “It came to me one day with the holidays, it would be nice to have needy children have a warm pair of pajamas for Christmas,” says Diane Pischke.

She started collecting pajamas with her own money but as word spread of her generosity, other people wanted to pitch in. Over the last five years, Diane has been able to hand out, not hundreds, but thousands of pairs of pajamas to kids that might not otherwise have them. “I can’t believe it.”

Diane’s act of compassion has earned her the title Pajama Grandma. It’s a nickname lovingly embraces wherever she goes.

But what we didn’t know at the time we ran our first story was that Diane had just been diagnosed. She says she wanted the story to be more about the pajamas and less about her.

But today Diane’s diagnosis can no longer stay hidden. “I had two scans that showed no active cancer. But then in January I had a re-check and it had come back.”

Her son Justin adds, “it’s a tumor in her airway. It’s a very angry tumor.”

Doctors have told her they can’t remove it and radiation doesn’t appear to be a possibility. “I just keep hoping and praying that there would be something to do to zap it. We’re still waiting. But the show must go on.”

But once again, word spread throughout the Whitehall community. This time less about the pajama’s and more about the pajama grandma. “She’s the type of person that if you are down, she’s going to pull you back up, ” says friend Nancy Steig. “So we just want her to know that her army is out here for her. We can never do for her what she has done for everyone else, but we are going to give it a shot!”

In 24 hours by word of mouth and social media, a declaration throughout the town of Whitehall was made.

“It’s pajama grandma day!”

At schools and local businesses people proudly paraded in their pj’s to show one special grandma how much she is loved. “Words can’t express what a wonderful lady is and all she has done for this community. She’s just such a wonderful giving person.”

For a woman that never wanted the story to be about her, it is an overwhelming gesture. “I just can’t believe it. I honestly can’t believe it.”

“It made me really proud of my home town,” says son Justin. You spend so much time wanting to grow up and do your thing and then you see people come together. She’s their grandma. She’s our mom.”

She only wanted to give kids a warm pair of pajamas, now a whole community is wearing them to make sure she fells wrapped in love.

Diane is still collecting pajamas.  There are donation boxes set up at Kwik Trip and RCU in Whitehall as well as Schuamberg Law in Osseo. You can also drop them off at the News 8 building in La Crosse.  New pajamas only please.