SHARON SPRINGS — Why has this happened? It’s one of the questions so many feel has been left unanswered since 17-year-old Luke Schemm collapsed on the football field during Sharon Springs-Wallace County’s playoff win against Otis-Bison on Tuesday.
When will the pain go away? For the Schemm family, the questions seem to be never-ending, according to David Schemm, Luke’s father, who alongside his wife, Lisa, and son, Clay, said goodbye to his youngest son before removing him from life support Wednesday at Swedish Medical Center in Denver.
How will we face the days ahead? The answer to this question is perhaps more within grasp, as Schemm feels his community has cradled their arms around his family — sparking hope for the coming days and leaving the Schemms forever grateful.
“When it happened, we were devastated,” David Schemm said. “We quickly got our son to the hospital, but already at that time, we had community members going to our house and grabbing clothes for us.”
Immediately, many joined together to help in any way they could, including the local minister and family friends who jumped in the car and drove that night to the hospital.
“They were there helping us just try to deal with it and grasp everything that was occurring,” Schemm said.
Other friends who were still in Sharon Springs offered to help the Schemms with their farming, as they are currently in the middle of harvest.
“I had the owner of a local dealership call me up and he said, ‘David, I know you’re dealing with grief right now, but I know you’re in harvest, and my full shop and all of my guys are here to help you finish harvest,’” Schemm said.
After returning home from Denver, the first thing the family wanted to do was stop at the football field. The local sheriff blocked off anyone from getting in to make sure the family could be alone in the place where Luke spent his final moments — a place where the high school senior played his heart out that night, and laid eyes upon his friends and family for the last time.
“We walked out there and spent time on the field, talking with Luke,” he said. “Some friends and Luke’s girlfriend came up and held our hands. We traced our steps back to the school — the steps Luke and the team would have taken coming out and going back to the locker room from the football field.”
While on the field, the family saw where the town had displayed lines of cups to spell out, ‘We love you #4,’ in the chain link fence.
Inside the school, Schemm said photos of Luke graced the hallways and classrooms, on which students signed their names and wrote, “We love you, Luke,” and “We love you #4.”
“Some teachers and students met us there, and we all cried and shared stories of Luke,” he said. “We were then finally able to come home.”
The Schemms arrived at their house to find it had been cleaned and there were meals there waiting for them.
“It’s just been such an outpouring of support in this community,” Schemm said.
Rick DeWees, the family’s pastor at Hi-Plains Baptist Church in Sharon Springs, said the tragedy has had a way of revealing the true heart of people.
“They’ve all come together and supported one another,” he said. “That is truly the most inspiring and humbling part of it all.”
Faith, Schemm said, has helped his family find their way through the devastation, for faith has always played a large role in their lives.
The mourning father reflected on Luke’s baptism — a day that instilled a piece of faith in Luke that he carried with him for his entire life. Lisa and David Schemm always knew they wanted their children baptized, but decided to wait until it was their children’s decision, so they fully understood and accepted the responsibility of being a Christian.
“Luke was baptized at 9 years old and one of the gifts from his grandma was his baptism towel that he dried off with after he was baptized,” Schemm said. “That was the towel he always took with him to dry off when he was in the locker room. That was a piece of faith that Luke carried with him.”
Still in the early stages of grief, Schemm said he knows the process of healing will be long. He understands it will be difficult for his family to move forward, and there will be a lot of uncertainty along the way. There is one thing, however, of which he said he is absolutely certain.
“Where we are now and where we will be in the future — I don’t see how we would have made it without God and the people behind us,” he said. “We’re really struggling with grief and the loss of our son, and this is a community that has come together and truly wrapped their arms around us to help hold us up.”