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Auction set to help Hall deputys daughter who was born prematurely
Father says his daughter is slowly becoming a healthy child
Joey Haban watches as his daughter, Katelyn Jo, walks with the aid of rails designed by her therapist. - photo by Tom Reed

Raffle and silent auction

What: To benefit Hall County sheriff's deputy Joey Haban and his family
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, raffle at 6 p.m.
Where: Cocktail Cove Bar and Grill, 5840 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta
How to help: To make a donation or purchase a raffle ticket, visit

Some people don't believe in miracles, but Hall County sheriff's deputy Joey Haban and his wife, Kristina, have seen a miracle each day for the past 18 months.

They may be millions of dollars in debt, but that's the sacrifice the couple is willing to make to allow their daughter to live a healthy life.

Katelyn Jo was born three months premature weighing only 15 ounces. She was so small Haban could fit his wedding ring around her thigh, and at 14 days old, she had heart surgery.

"It was a pretty significant surgery. They actually had to do the procedure at her bedside because she was so unstable they couldn't bring her into the operating room, so it was pretty enlightening." Haban said.

Katelyn Jo has undergone multiple surgeries since her birth in May 2010. The family has since accumulated debt and lost their home to foreclosure.

But a family friend, Tom Petska, hopes to ease some of the financial strain with a raffle he organized that's set to take place 6 p.m. Sunday at Cocktail Cove Grill and Bar in Atlanta.

"All of us will be there, even Katie Jo," Haban said.

"Hopefully, she will enjoy it."

Other than a recent double ear infection, Katelyn Jo has progressed and is slowly becoming a healthy child, Haban said.

"She is eating a little bit better than she was," he said. "She has made great strides in walking. She's actually walking with the assistance of a toy. She's running around all over the place."

After spending much of her first year in the hospital, Katelyn Jo still must make regular doctor's visits and often requires an oxygen tank and feeding tube.

But doctors were skeptical she would even reach her first birthday. She has since defied those odds.

She has also steadily gained weight in recent weeks.

"She's put on about a pound and 4 ounces in the past six weeks, so that's great," Haban said.

Despite the family's mounting medical debt, the couple continues to stay positive.

"It is what it is," Haban said. "Bill collectors call all the time, but I'm on the verge of filing bankruptcy and just start all over."

Bills as high as $600,000 to $800,000 have found their way to the Haban's mailbox.

"Can you imagine? I freak out over a $300 power bill," Petska said.

"There's just no way. I could work my professional life and never pay off what I owe," Haban said. "I've passed the point of trying to rack my brain about it, and focus on (Katelyn Jo) and doing my job."

And Haban's job as a sheriff's deputy is not his only one. He has taken on numerous side jobs as well, including construction work.

Those jobs have required him to work seven days a week for nearly two months and will probably continue until February, he said.

"I've been blessed with a couple jobs I'm in the middle of right now," Haban said.

At Sunday's auction, a NASCAR hood signed by Kasey Kahne will be among the prizes. Best Buy Corp. also donated a large flat-screen TV.

Haban said Petska continues to leave him in the dark about donations.

"It's funny because I text him about once a week and say ‘Hey, how's everything going? Do I need to do anything? Can I help?' And about 80 percent of the time he doesn't even text me back," Haban said.

"I am literally in the dark," he added.

The attention the family has received is encouraging, Haban said.

"People that I have never met in my life have reached out to try to help us in all sorts of ways. I've got people that are praying for us on prayer lists and they're asking us what we need," he said.

"Stuff like that has been a tremendous help. It has taken me down to a level of being humble beyond belief," he added.

Monetary donations as well as items to be auctioned can be made by calling Petska at 770-616-9070 or visiting