Chaparral’s Joel Gerber – Athlete Of The Month Presented By Ascension Via Christi

By Matt Browning

Ask any staff member, coach, player or student at Chaparral High School what they think of Joel Gerber and it will always be the same thing.

-”Coach Gerber is someone who has had a positive impact on my life. Someone I will remember forever.”

-“What he (Gerber) brings to the table is pure encouragement & constructive criticism.”

-“Coach Gerber is always willing to put others before himself which stands out to me a lot, as being a good person to look up to and asking for help.”

-”Coach Gerber is one of the most self-motivated and nicest men I know.”

Gerber and his wife have gone through a difficult battle with numerous health problems over the past five years, including Joel’s wife, Leslie, fought breast cancer five years ago.

And then earlier this month, Gerber’s son, Abe, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on January 9.

“It breaks my heart to witness Coach Gerber and his family navigate through these challenging times,” Chaparral head football coach JC Zahradnik said. “However, amidst the heartbreak, I find immense humility and gratitude for the opportunity to observe how Joel and his family have responded.”

The Chaparral family has rallied around the Gerber family. They know what kind an impact Joel and Leslie, who also teaches in the district, have had on countless students.

“The support pouring in has been nothing short of extraordinary,” Zahradnik said. “Children, inspired by the Gerber family’s resilience, have initiated various fundraising efforts—crafting bracelets, designing T-shirts, and baking goods to contribute. Several local businesses have also joined the cause, allocating portions of their proceeds from specific events or dates to support the family.”

There are numerous ways members of the community have taken care of the Gerber family.

“The Gerber family has a Strawberry farm called Sweet Berries and Brambles and the community will be stepping up to care for and run it for them this spring,” Gerber said. “Abe’s 13th birthday is January 25th, so the community is sending birthday cards and creating a huge birthday video to send to him.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family: