By Nikki McKim
When the Class D-2 playoff opener between Falls City Sacred Heart and Emerson-Hubbard started, nobody knew it would soon turn into a life-changing event for one player and his family. The Haberman family will never forget the events that took place on Oct. 30, 2014.
It started like many other football playoff game days. One team of players – the FCSH Irish – were anxious to get on the field and prove they were worthy to go on to the next round of the state playoffs, while the other team of players – the EH Pirates – were mostly anxious to get off the bus. It’s 198 miles, about 3 1/2 hours, between Jug Brown Stadium and Emerson, a town of 800 located 25 miles southwest of Sioux City.
Sacred Heart, the defending D2 Champions, took the lead early and the outcome (eventually 52-13 on the scoreboard) was never in doubt, but something wonderful and terrifying happened simultaneously along the way. Emerson-Hubbard senior Leo Lauko booted a 57-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half, setting a new Nebraska eight-man playoff record. The Pirates’ bench went wild, but only for a moment. Happiness turned into concern as it became clear that one of their own was down and very badly injured. All eyes on Lauko turned to No. 10, senior Tanner Haberman, who was writhing in excruciating pain on the Thomas Field turf.
Haberman had suffered a broken femur. Medical personnel quickly aided Haberman and got his leg into an air cast and moved from the field.
Tanner’s father, Troy Haberman who is a teacher at Emerson-Hubbard and his wife Janelle accompanied their son to Falls City Community Medical Center, where his leg injury was severe enough Tanner was flown to Lincoln to receive further care. In Lincoln it was decided that Tanner would need a rod inserted into his broken femur.
During the surgery doctors attempted to place the rod in Tanner’s leg, but when the rod went into the boy’s leg too easily the doctors knew something more was in play. Unfortunately, the doctors were correct. Tanner had developed bone cancer, osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that is often found in children and adolescents. One of the most common symptoms or signs of osteosarcoma is a sudden fracture due to minor trauma.
Soon after Tanner’s diagnosis, Emerson-Hubbard teachers pitched in and donated around $500.00 to help the Haberman family with their eight kids at home. Here in Falls City, as word soon spread about Tanner’s outlook, prayers and fundraisers started. Members of the Falls City community have reached out to the Haberman family to offer their prayers and support.
Rachel Witt of Falls City held a “Team up to Tackle Cancer” beneft at Dickey’s BBQ on November 12, where 50% of the proceeds were donated to the Haberman family. Shirs were also printed and sold that night in support of Tanner with the Helen Keller quote “Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.”
Tanner Haberman is the oldest of nine children. He had enjoyed a great senior season leading his team with five interceptions at defensive back.
According to a Caringbridge Journal website updated by Tanner’s mother Janelle on Christmas Eve, she says Tanner is “doing well” and will soon return to UNMC for more chemo. after a brief break.
Janelle Haberman contacted the Journal to offer her thanks to the community in their support of her son at this time.
“Our family will like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. We want to thank you all for your prayers and financial support you have shown us during Tanner’s illness. We realize that it takes a special kind of person to give of themselves the way you all have for us and Tanner. You will all be in our prayers and hearts daily as our son continues treatment and recovery. Our family trusts in the Lord and in his plan for Tanner and we know that everyone of you are part of his healing.
God Bless You, The Haberman ‘s Troy, Janelle, Tanner, Tyler, Emma, Anthony, Lauren, Andrew, Claire, Marcus and Matthew”
A fund has been established in support of Tanner and his family. You can send checks made out to the Haberman family to: First Nebraska Bank, 1000 Main Street, Emerson NE 68733.
An auction is also set to take place at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at Sacred Heart Gym in Emerson, NE.