A benefit for Falls City native son Reed Schwartz will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at Prichard Auditorium. The event is being organized by members of the Tiger Booster Club and beefburgers, baked beans, chips, desserts and a drink will be served.
A free will donation will be accepted and all proceeds will be used to help the family (Reed and his wife, Debbie, have one daughter, Lucy, a graduating Lincoln Southeast High School senior) pay sky-high medical bills, incurred over the course of a valiant, nearly two-decade-long battle against brain cancer.
A popular teacher and coach at Ashland-Greenwood, Reed steadfastly turned the tables on cancerous brain tumors in 2000, 2004 and 2008, but in 2014 more tumors, inoperable ones, were discovered. After a year-long episode of chemotherapy, doctors ordered more radiation, but a seizure last winter kept him from coaching track this spring and in the last couple of months doctors discontinued the treatments. Reed, 46, is now only taking steroids to treat inflammation, as well as anti-seizure medication.
A tumor the size of a fist was detected in his brain at around the turn of the century, just two years into his teaching/coaching career, the entirety of which has been spent at Ashland-Greenwood. Doctors surgically removed that mass and Reed didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy. He made a full recovery and soon returned to the classroom and sideline, but a routine six-month checkup in 2004 revealed another tumor. This time around, however, surgery was followed up with radiation therapy — scheduled around Bluejay games; astoundingly, he didn’t miss even one that year — and he was once again cancer-free, coordinating the A-G offense with a full deck of sharp-edged throwing cards, in more ways than one. By 2009, a long-suffering football program started exacting harsh reprisals on opponents in Class C1, a group which begrudgingly yet annually included Reed’s beloved Orange & Black. Six successful Blue Jay campaigns forged a collective 42-8 regular season record and in 2014 the wave extended all the way to Memorial Stadium and the C1 championship game.
Personally, Reed rallied again and again, too. Another tumor appeared in 2004 during a six-month checkup. Surgery was again successful, but this time the Navy vet needed radiation therapy, which was scheduled around Bluejay football.
A third tumor appeared four years later; it was inoperable and chemotherapy was ordered. Once again, it was during football season, and once again, Reed continued to perform as offensive coordinator for the Bluejays. He subsequently received clean bills of health every six months for more than five years and all the while continued to teach offense, geography, American history and track and field. Reed, a UNL graduate, even earned his master’s degree in 2010.
The benefit in Falls City in support of Reed, the son of Hank and Marcia Schwartz, isn’t the first of its kind. The A-G community held a “Royal Rally for Reed,” a play on words that reflects the man’s lifelong love of a baseball team. A team that discredited the notion of insurmountable odds.
Hundreds of colleagues, students, friends and family attended the Rally and, furthermore, a “Go Fund Me” page has also been created to assist with the fundraising effort:
The page went live less than a month ago, with a stated goal of raising $10,000 for the family. As of Monday night, it was at $10,340 and climbing.
Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.