Video: MaxPreps President and Founder Andy Beal explains Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign
Every football team in America can make a donation through PledgeIt.
The Touchdowns for Cancer campaign to benefit cancer research for St. Jude Hospital is universally applauded. Everyone desperately wants to knock out pediatric cancer. But some fights are quite personal. So are their stories. Here is one of many to be shared.
She was known as the younger sister of Ryan
and Kenny Schemmer
, a pair of big, burly and popular linemen on the Whittier Christian (La Habra, Calif.)
football team. But, quite honestly, Abbey Schemmer was everyone's little sister on the small, intimate 58-year-old campus in north Orange County.
According to school officials, they all looked after, protected and cherished her.
Abbey entered the school in the fall of 2013 already quite sick — first ravaged by headaches and nausea, but ultimately diagnosed with brain cancer. Everyone on campus, with an enrollment of about 650 students, simply took her under their wings.
"They watched her fight year after year," said Whittier Christian Athletic Director Rolland Esslinger. "She was a fixture around campus and in the office. Her whole family was a big part of the school."
When Abbey's hair began falling out as a sophomore due to radiation and chemotherapy treatment, the school started a "Shave it for Schemmer" campaign to raise money to defray treatment costs. Carl Martinez, the head of the school, pledged to students if they raised $5,000, he would shave his head. They raised more than three times that amount. Out came the electric clippers that day.
"It really is amazing," Martinez told the La Habra Journal in December of 2014. "And it is to help such an amazing girl." Learn more about how you can get involved in Touchdowns Against Cancer
At least three other teachers shaved their heads that day, as did Abbey's brothers and three other students. That was just to kick things off.
The Abbey Schemmer Fund is now at $86,668 and still rising, even though on July 16 she succumbed to the dreaded disease, surrounded by loved ones including her dad Ken and mom Pam.
On his Facebook post that day, Ken wrote: "Abbey has moved to her new location: Heaven…
"We are so thankful for the 17 years we had with Abbey on this earth and that we will see her in heaven.
"We can't thank you all enough for your prayers, financial support, meals at hospital and home, grocery shopping, hospital room decorating, cards for Abbey, music videos, hospital visitation, and the love you poured out over Abbey and my entire family, Pam, Kenny and Ryan during this last 3½ years.
"We could not have done this without all of the support of our family and friends."
The support continues.
Whittier Christian is one of the nation's leading donators to the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign organized by MaxPreps and PledgeIt.
Starting today, every touchdown scored by the Heralds over the next three games will raise at least $170.00 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to help cure pediatric cancer. That total may grow.
Esslinger said the school was attempting to find another way to honor Abbey, who would have been a senior this year. The following day they learned about TAC. He found it to be divine intervention, he said.
"It was definitely a God thing," he said. "We saw it on the MaxPreps site and ran with it. This is a fabulous way to honor Abbey and raise research and awareness through St. Jude Hospital."
Through three games, the Heralds have piled up 124 points (more than 41 per game) and 18 touchdowns. If the team keeps up that pace, with no more pledges (they are counting on many more), that would equal more than $3,000. If every one of the more than 20,000 teams pledged just one-third that total, more than $20 million would be raised.