Friday, the 20th annual Pigskin Classic between Pueblo County and Pueblo West brought students, parents, band members, teachers, and community members into the stands.
Only the keenest eye, however, would have noticed the white sticker on the back of each Cyclone’s helmet, honoring a treasured member of the Pueblo West High School community.
Just over a year ago, Taneisha Schumann, a former teacher at Pueblo West High School, was diagnosed with a rare genetic form of lung cancer that causes her body to produce cancerous cells. Over the past year, the community has shown support in many ways, and still continues to show support for the Schumann family.
Jamison Wagner, an assistant principal and former athletic director at Pueblo West, started a GoFundMe drive which has raised over $141,000 to date.
Schumann helped start unified sports at Pueblo West High School where her husband Ryan is a math teacher and wrestling coach. The couple has dedicated themselves to serving our community’s youth.
“This would have been her 13th year teaching,” Ryan Schumann said. “We’ve taught every year together.”
October 2018, the Pueblo West View and the Pueblo Chieftain published a letter written by Taneisha Schumann in which she addressed the community regarding her fight with cancer. In the letter, she wrote that she intends to “beat this cancer” so she can provide decades of data to researchers for use with future patients with the same diagnosis.
In a previous interview with the Chieftain, Wagner said the love and support the community has shown the family is a testament to how the Schumanns treat others and live their lives.
The way the community has rallied to support the Schumanns has been overwhelming, but very much appreciated. Since the start of the GoFundMe page, the Schumanns have almost met the goal of $150,000. Surprisingly, 43% of that was donated in the first three days of its creation.
“Part about the GoFundMe,” Ryan Schumann said, “is that we all want everyone to know that the messages help us. The funds are great,” he said, “but we’ve had more support outside of that. It’s been amazing.”
The community has shown its support by posting messages, bringing the family meals, flowers and gift baskets, sending cards and letters, texting and calling. “Without that,” Schumann said, “we wouldn’t have had the year that we had.”
Wayne Pechek, Taneisha Schumann’s father, said his daughter was a great tennis player in high school and went on to the University of Northern Colorado after graduating from Central High in Pueblo. “She’s always been an overachiever,” Pechek said. “She went to Mexico for an entire summer and taught special needs kids. I can say this for sure,” Pechek said, “there isn’t anybody who doesn’t love her.”
Schumann agreed. “Everybody loves her because she’s kind,” he said. “I want everybody to know she has the greatest heart. She wants to listen to everybody.”
Schumann has touched the lives of so many people, including the Cyclone football team.
Friday, Taneisha was slated to be the honorary captain and conduct the coin toss for the Pigskin Classic. Her 8-year-old son Cline did the coin toss on his mother’s behalf since she wasn’t well enough to make it to the game.
“I’ve been practicing at home,” Cline said.
Taneisha was made a team captain this season, and Pueblo West head coach Clint Buderus said the team’s helmets each have a sticker with her name over an outline of a white ribbon, to honor the teacher and her family.
“We had her family here to do the coin toss, because she couldn’t be here,” Buderus said. “We wanted to honor them, show them we support them.”
Melanie Velasquez is studying mass communications with an emphasis on journalism at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She enjoys photography and gardening, and prefers writing stories about people who hide in life’s shadows. Velasquez is a Colorado native and enjoys traveling with her husband.