Community means everything for Kyle Schmee, who lives in Park Falls, Wisconsin. A Technology Education teacher at Chequamegon High School, Kyle learned the importance of volunteering and giving back at an early age from his mother, Marny, who passed away on February 6, 1998, due to cervical cancer six days before Kyle’s twelfth birthday.
“I’m very well involved with the community doing projects and volunteering with the local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in town,” Kyle said. “Being a teacher allows me to spend my summers gaining experience and helping to improve the area any way I can.”
Marny was remembered for this same dedication to others. “She once had a craft store where she would provide adult crafting lessons,” said Kyle. “Many times she was up till 2:00 or 3:00 AM making sure a bride and groom had their flower arrangements done in time, and often did it for free.”
Years later, Kyle, an avid bike rider, wanted to do something to commemorate his mother and contribute to others in their situation.
“I thought up the bike ride three years ago while on an icy March winter ride. I was riding a mountain bike I bought in high school with money left behind from my mother,” Kyle said. “I had just scored my first teaching job and was feeling high on life for the first time after five years of college.”
Kyle decided to use his passion for bike riding as a way to raise awareness for Angel On My Shoulder.
“Being in my hometown makes it even more important to help where needed. As an impressionable young kid, you follow those that others talk about. Community members never let me forget who she was and the things she did for this town. I try to focus my energy towards the youth in any way possible. Mom did … so I want to.”
Kyle also serves as an assistant baseball coach for their high school and summer league baseball teams. “When I’m not at work, I’m typically riding my bike since I like to do amateur mountain bike racing,” he said.
When asked how he first became involved with Angel On My Shoulder, Kyle said, “My cousins Shawny and Ben heard about Angel On My Shoulder through their college experience, as they needed to complete community service hours. The ‘need’ quickly became a ‘want’ for both of them and they were involved for numerous years. They were persistent enough that I broke from my busy schedule to give it a whirl and that’s when I fell in love with the camps. So a huge thanks to both of them!”
Kyle’s original goal was to ride his bike 50 miles out and back in all four directions from Park Falls
“On the map, it’s a perfect ‘PLUS’ sign. MARNY, short for Marlene, was what my family and friends called mom.”
In honor of his mom, he named the ride “Mom’s Angels Ride to Nurture Youth” – MARNY PLUS. “Something my family and I came up with during a family wedding,” he explained.
“I knew if I just started pedaling people would donate. I did some research on what it takes to do 100 miles. It’s not as easy as just getting on the bike and riding. The mental toughness kicked in as I thought about all the people I’ve seen in hospitals and the stories the Angel On My Shoulder campers have told me over the last eight years. All the victims of cancer would love to be doing what I was doing rather than trying to beat cancer. Climbing hills hurts but you forget the pain and focus on the reason you decided to do it in the first place.”
Asked what some of the most memorable things are he’s gotten from doing the ride, Kyle said, “My friend Joe Hall from Glidden, who is in the US Air Force, lost his mother when he was young. He saw the MARNY PLUS advertisements on Facebook and asked me a series of questions, thought the idea was awesome and he said to me, ‘With a family of my own and the schedule I have I could never do what you are doing. How does $5,000 sound for a donation?” $10 dollars makes it worth it. $5,000 makes a grown man cry.”
For anyone considering volunteering, Kyle had this to offer: “Stop thinking about it as I did for two years. Just jump in and do it! Every first year volunteer has an eye opening experience that ‘Puts you on cloud nine for a solid month straight’ (Ben Schmidt).
“Whether you are affected or not by cancer, these kids need someone to help them forget cancer for a moment to realize there is more to life then stewing on all the negative effects that cancer has on all those who are coping with cancer. The kids will never forget and neither will you.”
– Mark McNease