Injured Isaac Pfeifer Talks for the First Time; Norfolk Rallies Behind Family
Isaac Pfeifer will never forget the play.
"The guy was in mid air, catching the ball. I came across and I guess just must have hit him wrong."
The senior linebacker for Norfolk Catholic took the field in November, in the playoff game against Fort Calhoun.
Like he had so many times before, Isaac went in for the tackle.
"I didn't black out or anything, I just fell to the ground. It took me while to realize I couldn't move anything. It was pretty scary so I just laid there."
For the last two months, Isaac has lived at the Madonna Rehab Hospital in Lincoln, where intense physical therapy is helping him make progress.
In a driving simulator, Isaac is learning how to use his hands again.
He could be driving in a few months.
"Things have gotten easier, learned some tricks. Learned how my body handles things."
Isaac is in therapy all day every day. Some days are better than others.
"If I have a bad day, I just know the next day, there's no way it can be any worse so the next day's just gonna get better."
Isaac hopes he can go home to Norfolk next month. It will be quite the homecoming.
From signs of encouragement in the halls of the high school, to rebuilding the Pfeifer family home, volunteers are giving the term "home team" a whole new meaning.
Norfolk, a small city. Home to thousands of people with the biggest hearts around.
"We all know each other and try to take care of one another."
A town that carries pride for its sports teams, players and their families.
A close Pfeifer family friend Lisa Lyons says, when things like this happen we celebrate our victories, our joy and our sadness and Isaac's injury impacted our entire school system."
On November 6th, the Norfolk Catholic High School football team took the field for a playoff game against Fort Calhoun.
Number 26, senior Isaac Pfeifer, made a life changing play.
Neil Pfeifer watched his son make the tackle. Isaac did not get up.
"At that point you just, a lot of things go through your mind. What is going on? How bad is it? I don't think I ever dreamt it'd be what it is", says Isaac's dad Neil Pfeifer.
Airlifted to Omaha with a spinal injury, Isaac went into surgery not knowing if he'd every walk again.
"It's the hand we're dealt, it's the hand that Isaac's dealt, and we're doing the best that we can and with the help of this community it's made it very manageable."
In the blink of an eye, no questions asked the big hearts in Norfolk came forward.
"People have provided meals, and volunteered with the renovation of their home, pitched in and helped with the kids living back here in Norfolk and every body just wants to help in any way they can, it's just been overwhelming", adds Lyons.
While the Pfeifer's have been adjusting to their new reality, their family has grown by the thousands.
"Every time we turn around something else happens and we just shake our head and go wow. It's a wonderful wonderful community."
Fundraisers, donations, silent auctions, cards, well wishes, the list goes on. Like a rock this community stands to support Isaac and his family.
Isaac's friend Michael Obermiller can't wait for him to come home.
"Everyone's there for him, his family knows if they ever need anything we're all there. We all miss him just waiting for him to get back do whatever we can to help."
"People have said, how you doing it? It has to be from all the prayers and the community support that helps us get day to day. Each day gets closer to us bringing him home."
Now at the Madonna Rehab Hospital in Lincoln, Isaac is working through tough physical therapy.
Not knowing how and when he would come home the family needed options.
Roger Haselhorst offered head a construction project for the Pfeifer's.
"It's not like you and I we can get up and walk around, Isaac can't. We need to make it so he's comfortable."
An incredible outpouring of help came once again to the Pfeifer's.
"From day one that was Becky and I's big concern was how can we bring him home? Given what we have there was just no way. But through the gift of a lot of people and a lot of time, we're able to", adds Neil.
More than 30 volunteers every day; friends, neighbors even strangers, grab hammers and nails and go to work on the Pfeifer house.
A new bedroom and bathroom for Isaac, a bigger kitchen, wider hallways, wheelchair lifts and an elevator will make their home on Clark Street handicap accessible.
"Neil and Becky, Neil has been just an amazing individual in my life and other people's lives. That's why we're here", adds Haselhorst.
"Cause Neil and Beck would do it in a heartbeat for us. The Pfeifer's would do the exact same thing if it were someone else in the situation."
Norfolk Catholic Head Coach Jeff Bellar knows it's a tough road but says Norfolk is with Isaac every step of the way.
"He's dealing with this every minute of every day. Still very challenging for all of us I think. We're all praying and always hoping that things are getting better and moving in the right direction."
Overwhelmed with love and generosity Isaac and his family can't say thank you, enough.
"What these people have done is allowed our family to be with Isaac and to heal with Isaac and not worry about things here. They have rallied around us and supported us and made us at ease with what we have to do."
Anything to bring their hometown hero, Isaac, back to the home team.