Impossible: How Our Itty Bitty Nebraska Town Raised $45,000 to Save Our Son’s Life

Holden’s community gave him hope and support when he needed it most.


We were city people until about five years ago. At that time, my husband, Jeremy; our 12-year-old son, Holden; and I were all battling cancer. The struggle of illness and raising our four children helped us make the decision to move back to my hometown in rural Nebraska to be near my parents.

Holden did not let brain cancer slow him down. He jumped right in to help his grandpa and learned all he could about running the farm. He has even opened his own sweet corn business and won third place in proficiency at the state FFA convention.

When the cancer returned for a third time, the neurosurgeons deemed it inoperable. Research brought us to a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital who said she was confident she could remove the entire tumor. But our insurance would not pay for the operation, and grief and devastation engulfed us.

Word spread and help arrived quickly. Holden’s FFA adviser and our county 4-H leader banded together and decided to hold a fundraiser. They asked us how much money was needed, and I said $39,000 was the cash payment the hospital had agreed upon. It seemed like an impossible number.

The day of the fundraiser was icy and blustery, but people poured into the school, bid on the auction items and ate a warm meal. Volunteers were everywhere, from schoolchildren to retirees. A freewill donation box filled up with checks. It was such an incredible experience.

A couple days later, I got a phone call with news on the fundraiser’s success. Our itty-bitty town of only 1,000 people collected over $45,000 in one afternoon.

I am sharing our story because I am humbled and amazed. Our community banded together to make an impossible task possible. Now two years cancer-free, Holden is still working on the farm and helping feed the world, playing football and volunteering with his FFA chapter. He is very proud to be a blood donor and carries his donor card everywhere.

We will never leave our little town or the people who saved our son. And I will always believe in miracles.

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