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Chris Schauer, Basketball in the Park founder, remembered for selflessness

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 1:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 11:42 p.m. CDT
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(Provided photo)
Chris Schauer

CRYSTAL LAKE – Ken Ruud still remembers the first flier to Basketball in the Park he received from Chris Schauer.

Schauer, then the team manager for Ruud's McHenry County College men's basketball team, had created handwritten brochures to his inaugural event to raise money for children with life-threatening conditions to go on special vacations with their families.

The event grew each year through the Woodstock man's hard work, raising more than $30,000 for Give Kids the World – the organization dedicated to providing those children with cost-free vacations. Schauer did it all while working through disabilities of his own stemming from being born with a hole in his heart, undergoing four open-heart surgeries, having a stroke when he was a year and a half old and suffering migraines and kidney failure.

Basketball in the Park is only part of the legacy Schauer left behind after he died Sunday at age 38.

"Every time I would be upset or down [while coaching], I would look over at Chris and think 'What am I whining about?'" Ruud said of Schauer's influence and perseverance. "It was amazing how well-rounded he was. He is going to be missed big time."

Schauer's physical difficulties never stopped him from pursuing athletics as he played basketball in the Northern Illinois Special Olympics and managed both the basketball and baseball teams at Woodstock High School, where he graduated in 1995.

Before he even enrolled at McHenry County College, he managed both the men's and women's basketball teams and continued to do so for 21 years.

Pam Mason, who joined the Lady Scots in 1998 as a player, said Schauer was an inspiration for all the players and a huge help to those who needed it. At the time, she had a young son who Schauer would watch and play with while practice was in session.

Mason returned to the Lady Scots as head coach in 2006 and Schauer was still there helping in every way he could.

"Regardless of what his physical challenges were, he never displayed any concern for himself and was always concerned for others and the welfare of others. He was always there to uplift you," Mason said. "He became a friend. He was always there for me."

Ruud also recalled Schauer always being ready to jump into a competition, often beating players on the team in 3-point contests. Despite having to shoot with his off-arm, Schauer won plenty of challenges, Ruud said.

McHenry County College honored Schauer last year for 20 years of service during a basketball doubleheader, calling him a "dedicated, caring and a positive influence on the staff and student-athletes."

The Friends of MCC Foundation are finalizing a Christopher R. Schauer Memorial Scholarship in his honor.

A visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. at Schneider-Leucht-Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home at 1211 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock. The visitation will continue Saturday at 10 a.m. until the funeral service at 11 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church at 1300 Kishwaukee Valley Road in Woodstock.

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