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Fundraisers planned to help man with rare disorder
Rare neurological disorder affecting Statesboro native's life
W Tanner and Family
Statesboro native Steven Tanner suffers from the rare Kleine Levin Syndrome. Several fundraising events are set for June and July. He is pictured with his wife Brittany and sons, Andrew, 4, and Joe, 1. - photo by Special

Everyone loves to sleep, but imagine sleeping for weeks at a time. That’s not so pleasant, according to Statesboro native Steven “Earle” Tanner.

Since age 13, Tanner has suffered from Kleine-Levin syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes the body to manufacture a substance that acts as an anesthetic, resulting in “recurring excessive amounts of sleep, altered behavior and a reduced understanding of the world,” said his sister Andrea Whitfield. “He can sleep for days, even weeks.”

Tanner never knows when an episode will occur, but he can feel it as it comes on, he said.

“It shuts my mind and body down for days, weeks,” he said. “It puts me in a semi-comatose state, makes me kind of spacey. It affects my hand-eye coordination, and I feel like I am underwater.”

Whitfield said several fundraising opportunities are coming up to help her brother “catch up” and make ends meet due to missed work caused by the disorder.

“I am trying to build a career and be a father, but I miss out on all kinds of stuff — work, family time,” he said.

Tanner once coached baseball at Statesboro High School. He is still a coach, only now it’s in LaGrange, where his family lives.

“Faith keeps me in the game,” he said. “Knowing God has a plan is the key factor.”

Although Tanner has had the disorder since he was 13, the frequency of his episodes has increased. He has had seven attacks since September, Whitfield said, each lasting about two weeks. The father of two boys has missed ball games, work, family celebrations and more due to the illness.

A raffle to benefit Tanner and his family will be held at 2 p.m. July 8 at the Middleground Community Building on Metts Road. Prizes include $1,000 cash from ROC Mechanical, a custom-built Georgia Southern fire pit donated by Rachel’s Machine & Fabrication, a 35-quart Yeti cooler donated by Ag South Farm Credit (Cassie Justen and Andrea Whitfield), a 16-by-12-inch custom cutting board handmade by Cole Brown, two Ducks Unlimited prints donated by Zack and Whitney Murphy, a Damascus Steel hunting knife custom made by Ted Riner, a “mystery item” donated by No. 61 Detroit Tigers pitcher Shane Greene, and a gift basket of women’s hair products donated by Tangled Salon in LaGrange.

Raffle tickets, available for purchase at AgSouth Farm Credit, Renasant Bank, ServPro, The Heritage Bank, McCook’s Pharmacy, Bulloch Telephone, Pawn City and Southern Pharmacy for $10 each, will be sold until July 7, she said. Winners need not be present at the drawing and will be notified upon winning, she said.

A golf tournament slated for June 17, organized by Tanner’s cousin Kevin Spence at the Scarboro Bluff golf course, has already been filled as far as teams, but “at this point, we need help with hole sponsorships and items for bags that we will be giving to all the golfers,” Whitfield said. “If you know of a business that may be willing to sponsor a hole or donate items for the bags, please let me know. There are a total of 40 golfers that will be participating.”

To reach Whitfield for sponsorship information or to buy a raffle ticket, call (912) 536-9130.


Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414


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