This Thanksgiving as people sit around a mouthwatering and plump turkey, they’ll be counting their many blessings amongst their loved ones.

For the Eppert family, they are thankful for their family, friends and community. Stephanie Eppert is thankful for her husband’s life.

“Thank you never seems like enough to express how overwhelmed we are by the generosity and support of our family, friends and this entire community,” Stephanie said. “We are so thankful for all of you each and every day and can only hope that we will be able to pay it forward sooner than later.”

A freewill donation fundraiser was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Aug. 30 for Stephanie’s 36-year-old husband, Adam Eppert, to raise money for his ongoing medical expenses after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia May 15. Adam’s younger brother died of the same kind of leukemia nine years ago at the age of 18.  

Stephanie said about 350 people attended the fundraiser, which raised about $10,000. Shredded beef, beans, chips, salads and desserts were served at the fundraiser and Team Eppert T-shirts were also sold. Stephanie said that a Dunbar man whose daughter had died of cancer made a cedar chest to be raffled off.

Stephanie said Kathy Duffy organized the fundraiser at the church. Many people volunteered their time and food for the event, including members of the St. Mary’s church, Lourdes Central Catholic Schools students and their families, Nebraska City Walmart employees and Duff Memorial Friendship Villa.  

Stephanie said Kathy has now become a dear family friend.

“She is truly an amazing woman and I am so blessed to have been able to gain her as a dear friend through this whole process,” Stephanie said.

Since Adam’s diagnosis, the Eppert family has been on a “whirlwind” journey as he has been fighting for his life.

Stephanie said the day that Adam was diagnosed doctors told them that Adam needed to begin treatment the next morning at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

“Shortly after arriving, his team of doctors entered the room for the first time,” she said. “(It was) a very overwhelming experience in itself to have a group of around eight doctors file into a small hospital room and then they dropped the news on us that he would be getting intense inpatient chemotherapy and would not be allowed to go home for a month.”

Family and friends then did anything that they could to help the family out as Adam began treatments. Stephanie is grateful that Adam’s 26-year-old brother, Jordan, was able to move to Nebraska City from Lincoln to help out.

“(He) has been the biggest blessing of all,” Stephanie said. “Our biggest goal for our children in all this has been to try to give them a sense of normalcy in a situation that is anything but, and he has helped us to be able to do that for them.”

Before his diagnosis, Adam was an assistant manager at Walmart in Nebraska City. He was then promoted as a co-manager of the Walmart Supercenter in Bellevue, and he was promoted yet again as the store manager for a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Omaha. Stephanie, Adam and their four children - Will, 13, Jackson, 10, Dilan, 9, and Quinn, 3, - continued to reside in Nebraska City as Adam commuted to his job because they love Nebraska City. Stephanie continued working at Duff Memorial Friendship Villa as well.

Adam had to resign from his position because of all of the chemotherapy treatments leaving him feeling weak and fatigued all of the time.

“He knows as soon as he starts feeling better from one round that means it is time for another. Walking across the house is the most he can handle some days and he leaves the house mostly just for blood draws three times a week when he is home,” Stephanie said. “He is at a huge risk for infection all of the time.”

Since his diagnosis, Adam has gone through five bone marrow biopsies, eight spinal taps, countless blood and platelet transfusions, at least five rounds of chemotherapy and was hospitalized for a whole week due to an infection from a peripherally inserted central catheter line.

On Oct. 28, Stephanie and Adam drove up to Rochester, Minn., for Adam to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the Mayo Clinic Nov. 9. Adam received “intense” chemotherapy before his surgery as well.

Stephanie said Adam has to stay at the Mayo Clinic for at least 100 days after his surgery. She returned to Nebraska City after Adam’s sister went up to stay with him. Adam’s sister will be there with him for two weeks, then his brother will stay up there for two more and so on.

As Adam is recovering 380 miles away in Rochester, his children remain home with their mother praying that they can see their father at Christmas.

“We are hoping he will feel well enough to be able to bring the kids up to spend Christmas with him,” Stephanie said.

There is still a benefit account open at Premier Bank for people interested in donating for Adam’s extensive medical expenses. Those interested can donate to the Eppert Family Benefit Fund.