Scholarship in his memory will do the same for others.
Michael Scheidemann was a bright, loving person with a heart of gold and wisdom far beyond his years. Born with a visual impairment, he compensated with a keen sense of hearing and an amazing memory.
His life ended Jan. 6, 2014. He was 24.
My brother’s memory lives on, however, in the hearts of his family and friends and through the Michael E. Scheidemann Inspirational Scholarship Fund for Florida Gulf Coast University, established by my parents and me to help others with physical disabilities pursue their education.
As his sister – we were less than a year apart and the best of friends – and a fellow Eagle, I’d like to share with you what made my brother special.
Michael’s favorite word was “Integrity” – being honest and having strong moral principles. He was assigned the word in an elementary school show. Afterwards, he put up the sign over his bed because he believed in it so much.
He was also the family comedian. He could always make us laugh.
Mike worried about other family members, especially when we were sick or hurt. When our mother, Josephine, had a backache, he brought her a back massager. When I was in middle school, I fractured my hip when I slipped and fell on black ice as I ran to catch the school bus. Mike helped carry me home. Later, as I struggled with crutches to get around, he helped me figure out an efficient way to go up and down the stairs in our New Jersey home.
Despite his visual limitations, he loved to serve as videographer in our high school TV production class and, once in the studio, enjoyed being the director. He challenged himself in all of his academics and graduated with honors with a GPA of more than 4.0 from Barron Collier High School in Naples.
Mike loved FGCU. My mom and I drove him to campus for classes. We would all get together for lunch at Gulf Coast Town Center when our schedules allowed it. Michael and I also attended FGCU concerts together. Those were times we will always hold dear.
My father, Ernest Scheidemann, cherishes the overnight camping trips he and Mike took to the Delaware Water Gap where they would fish, sit by a campfire and hike in the mountains. What dad misses most, though, are the powerful hugs Mike liberally dispensed.
If anyone needed help, Mike was ready to step up. He organized our home offices and garages and was just as happy to help people he didn’t know. Two years ago, he worked as an intern at the Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., a nonprofit organization for people with vision loss. He taught others who had vision issues how to use computers.
Michael became sick in December 2012. Eventually the doctors figured out it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Research indicated that treatment for this form of cancer had a high success rate, particularly for someone as young as he was. Michael remained tough, brave, and focused through it all, including his chemotherapy. Even before his final treatment, he declared himself a survivor. After six months of treatment, he was declared in remission. It was a happy day.
My brother taught me – and so many others – to live life to the fullest, with no regrets. A positive outlook and your best effort are what are required to face challenges and inspire others.
About a month after being declared in remission, Mike began experiencing heart complications caused by the treatment. He continued to be strong and brave, assuring the rest of us that this was just another obstacle he would overcome. But it was not to be. After fighting so hard for more than a year, he passed on that January.
Michael was a senior at the time. On May 10, I proudly accepted his bachelor’s degree in political science posthumously on his behalf at a beautiful ceremony.
It is my family’s hope that the Michael E. Scheidemann Inspirational Scholarship Fund will allow many more promising students to experience the joy of learning as Michael did and, in that way, keep Michael’s memory alive.
One of the most beautful, heart warming stories that I’ve read in a long time. I felt as if Michael and I could have originated from the same soul merely separated by time. Like Michael, i was born with multiple visual impairments and and was later diagnosed with Hodgkin s Lymphoma. But ulike Michael, I’ve been imprisoned within a self made world of darkness and unhappiness. Through your story as told by your sister, I will try to become more like you and find the happiness in life that made you beautiful and blessing to all who knew you.
Thank you so much for the kind words. I have made sure that Alyssa saw your response.