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Omaha firefighters, Milllard South community, help fulfill ailing mom’s wish

Woman battling cancer sees her daughter play volleyball
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Emily Hagedorn and her Millard South volleyball teammates are normally clad in blue uniforms, with a splash of red and white. But for Thursday night’s game against Millard North, it was all about the yellow.

”Tonight we’re gonna honor one of our super special families, the Hagedorns,” said Millard South High School volleyball coach Jaisa Poppleton. “One of our seniors has been a starter with us the last four years, her mom is battling sarcoma. The cancer color for sarcoma is yellow.”

The color is meant to raise awareness about sarcoma, an invasive form of cancer that attacks the body’s connective tissues. Emily’s mom Teresa was diagnosed before COVID-19, and now homebound in the late stages of her cancer, it’s been basically two seasons since she was able to watch her daughter play in person. So her family, with the help of Teresa’s caregivers at St. Croix Hospice, enlisted members of the City of Omaha Fire Department to help transport her to the match.

“It was quite a surprise,” Teresa said prior to the volleyball match. “I had no idea they had the fire department set up to be my shuttle here, that they had people lined up for my hair and makeup. It was more than I could imagine. All I was wanting was just to get to see her play for a little bit, so this was above and beyond what I could imagine.”

“I feel happy that my mom will be here and be able to watch me play,” Emily said. “I think it will be a really special night, I’m not really nervous at all, I’m just excited she’ll be here.”

The school has embraced efforts to raise awareness and funds for the sarcoma fight. The lobby included a display featuring fundraising items, and a website has been set up to support a silent auction, which will remain open until the volleyball team’s eight seniors, including Emily, are honored on senior night, October 7.

Teresa was joined courtside in her elevated medical stretcher by her husband and Emily’s brother, a junior at Millard South. A steady parade of friends and school personnel made their way by to share a smile with the 47-year-old, who also happens to be a 1992 graduate of Millard South. The way the community has rallied behind them as a family has been special to Teresa.

“It’s showing my kids, and it’s showing the community, that there’s still a lot of good out there,” Teresa said. “It’s easy for us to focus on the divisiveness and all the things that are going on in the world, but we’ve seen the opposite. We’ve seen so many people come together, it’s amazing.”

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