By Sara Kirkley, Weekend Anchor / Reporter - email
One Loup City family wants you to know that your donation to the United Way is helping them keep fighting for their daughter.
Natalee Stieb has had a number of health issues over the years, but recently a failing bladder and kidney and the addition of a feeding tube have made things harder for this second grader.
Her mother Mandy said it has been about a year since they've had a few healthy weeks, but they're in the middle of just that.
Natalee was playing video games and bouncing a basketball like most other kids her age Monday. It's break from a year that's been far from normal.
"Since June of last year we've went through nine surgeries," said her father, Kris.
That's made it hard for the Stiebs to focus on those normal worries.
"You decide between the hospital and spending time with your daughter, who you don't know if she might make it through a surgery, and paying the electric bill," said Mandy.
But, they haven't had to choose. Donations from the United Way have helped them keep their house and replace a water heater, though the hard-working Stiebs found it difficult to take the help.
"It reestablished faith in humanity," said Kris.
That video game system was also a donated Christmas gift, but not what Natalee asked for. She wanted all her friends at the children's hospital in Omaha to be able to go home for the holidays so Santa could find them more easily.
The Stiebs are just a few of the thousands of people the Heartland United Way and its agencies have helped.
But, as those agencies prepare their funding applications this year, the need is uncertain.
"There's a lot going on at the state level, at the federal level and kind of a lot of sifting sands," explained Karen Rathke, president of the Heartland United Way.
That's why the non-profit has developed councils to get ahead of key issues impacting the community, like poverty and obesity.
"There's a growing need for us to dig a little deeper and maybe dig harder at some of the root causes for things," said Rathke.
But, for those whose needs can't be prevented, at least the United Way can offer hope.
"We're not going to give up, because we can't," said Kris.
It's stories like these the Heartland United Way will share at their annual meeting Wednesday to show that anyone can "be the one" to provide hope for a family in need.
Wednesday's meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island.