Volleyball community rallying around Champlin Park coach after surprise diagnosis

For 12 years, John Yunker has been a rock for Champlin Park High School volleyball, coaching the girls team to a state championship and being named coach of the year twice.

Now the man who has been there for the local volleyball community is finding out that community is there for him as well.

"Hoping for the best for him, his family and a quick recovery," said Champlin Park High School activities director Mathew Mattson.

Family members say over the holidays, the 46-year-old had trouble breathing and ended up at North Memorial Medical Center, where doctors initially thought he had pneumonia.

He was eventually sedated and put on a ventilator and underwent open heart surgery, so surgeons could replace one faulty valve and repair another that were causing fluid to build up in his lungs.

"I think when we are in our 40's, a lot of people think we are going to be healthy forever and there's no way I'm going to be sick or get hospitalized. This shows that it can happen," said Mattson.

But family members say Yunker doesn't have health insurance, so they set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his medical bills.

In just a few days, it's raised more than $50,000 dollars of its $125,000 goal, with some of the donations coming from Champlin Park's rivals on the volleyball court.

"We all have respect for each other when people go through illnesses or those types of things, it really shows there is no political divide, there is no sporting divide," said Mattson.

"I just feel he supports so many people and he's in need of support right now and that's just one way I can give back to that and the community can give back to that," said former Champlin Park volleyball player Izzie Ashburn, who is organizing a fundraiser for Yunker on Monday.

Family members say Yunker is now awake and able to talk and take a few steps, but he is still weak and faces a long road to recovery.

But thanks to his community, he won't have to go it alone.

"Super excited a negative can turn into a positive and wishing the best to John and his recovery," said Mattson.

To donate to Yunker's GoFundMe campaign click here.

To find out more about fundraiser for Yunker on MLK Day click here