Wahpeton Family Experiences the Worst of Humanity and the Best of Humanity Amidst Cancer Diagnosis

Connie Petermann has never been one to rely on others or easily accept help. That’s why when an acquaintance wanted to hold a benefit for Connie’s 16 year-old son Jacob, who had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, she respectfully declined. The acquaintance then came back a couple weeks later and told Connie that several people want to do this for the Petermann family, they would handle all of the details, and they would really like Connie’s blessing to move forward. Connie relented and plans were put in motion. The benefit consisted of a basketball tournament, jambalaya feed, silent auction, and bake sale. It lasted all day and there was never a dull moment.

After the benefit, a small amount of money was handed over to Connie from the bake sale and silent auction, but the majority of funds were never turned over. Connie contacted the person who coordinated the benefit and only received excuses and delays. After a period of time, a community member contacted the Wahpeton Police Department, who then started an investigation. The police investigation has not reported an amount of money that is missing, but has said that it is believed to be “significant.” Connie looks back on it and realizes she should have seen red flags. The woman who approached her was a person that Connie didn’t know well, yet the woman was so insistent on helping the family. “That’s what makes this so hurtful,” said Connie. “I prayed for weeks that this was just a mix-up and the money would be there. I never dreamed someone could be so evil as to steal from a sick child.”

When word spread about what had happened to the Petermann family, Connie was surrounded by a community of people whose intentions were pure and they were determined to right the wrong that had been done. The Wahpeton community did a drive to raise some of the missing funds and unbelievably raised $13,000 in just three hours! With the support of their community and the police department now handling the investigation, the Petermanns are able to focus on what is most important; fully supporting Jacob and his needs. Jacob is looking forward to a clear check-up in December when the family again goes to Minneapolis for x-rays and scans. Jacob’s biggest hurdle going forward is learning to walk with his new prosthetic. It is an ottobock c-leg with a microprocessor in the knee to help with a person’s own unique gait. With delays due to unexpected surgeries, receiving the prosthetic is an important step in his recovery process. In September and October, Jacob had two lung surgeries to remove nodules. Learning to walk with the prosthetic is the number one goal at this point because it will give Jacob much more freedom and confidence. As any teenager does, Jacob just wants to return to being an independent, young adult. This includes suiting up as number 34 for the Wahpeton Huskies basketball team. Have a fun and successful season, Jacob! And most importantly, a healthy one.