Not just a game

During Saturday’s elementary basketball games against Ridgway, the Wolverines honored Sheffield student Abbey Schmader, who had passed away earlier in the week, with yellow and purple tape around their arms. Ridgway also raised over $400 for the Schmader family.

This past Saturday at Sheffield High School, the elementary basketball teams for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade hosted Ridgway. This, in itself, would be just another sports story, but these two schools came together to prove life is bigger than sports.

In the week leading up to Saturday’s games, the Sheffield community lost a brave young woman, Abbey Schmader, to a long battle with cancer.

Throughout her fight, Abbey received support from not just those closest to her, but also people who had never even met her.

Saturday was no different.

The Sheffield Elementary basketball teams all wore yellow and purple tape around their arms in honor of Abbey and in support of her family during this tough time. Yellow, being the color for childhood cancer awareness, and purple as Abbey’s favorite color.

Along with the Sheffield teams dedicating their games to Abbey, the Ridgway Elementary teams, coaches, and community members raised over $400 for the Schmader family.

“We just wanted to show our support for the family,” said Ridgway coach Mike Gerg. “It’s not about basketball when things like that happen. It’s about family, showing support for your fellow human beings. Just be there for the school and their families.”

The gesture was unexpected, but very appreciated by the Sheffield program. Coach Chris Kyler expressed his gratitude in the way that Ridgway reacted to the unforeseen events.

“We had talked to them (Ridgway) before about switching the timing so that people could attend the funeral service,” said Kyler. “They were very receptive and willing to do that. We didn’t find this morning until they got here that they were taking a card and passing it around to give to the Schmader family. That speaks volumes to character of the coaches, the kids, and the parents of Ridgway.”

Kyler and his fellow coaches, Stephen Joblon, Jeremy Hayes, and Chris Sprandle, as well as the fifth and sixth grade teams went to Abbey’s mother’s house Monday evening to present her with the card from Ridgway. Jodie Schmader was overwhelmed with the support the family has gotten over the years and continues to receive.

“I appreciate all the communities around here,” said Schmader. “All the friends, family, and all the support by everyone given to us. It is so comforting. That is one thing that has been such a big help throughout this long rough road for us.”