Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were diagnosed with untreatable cancer?
Ervin Schoolfield can tell you from experience. There are bad days and OK days, but as a parent and a spouse, sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself is not an option.
“My train has one last stop on it,” he said. “I can complain to the conductor or I can look out the window and enjoy the view.”
And that’s just what he’s doing with his involvement in Red Nation Robotics at Halls High School and the new Halls Middle School robotics team. His kids, Sydney in middle school and Adam in high school, are both active in the program. Some families play ball. This family builds robots. Schoolfield wouldn’t trade the time he spends with them for the world.
“It’s a gift,” he said. “Maybe it’s selfish, but I can envision what (the kids) are going to be like in the future. I get to see into the future a little bit here.”
“Here” is the Red Nation Robotics lab at Halls High School. Adam got involved in the robotics team when the family moved to Halls from Yorktown, Virginia. Schoolfield flew drones during his service in the U.S. Air Force, and then he worked as a contractor for the U.S. military. When Adam showed an interest in robotics, Schoolfield volunteered as a parent mentor for the team, and the rest is history. Also, Schoolfield recently expanded his service to mentor the team at Halls Middle School with daughter Sydney.
“Adam jumped right in, and he loved it,” Schoolfield said. “They’re learning things that I would not expect a high school student to learn.”
But, in December 2016, the Schoolfield family got some devastating news. Schoolfield was diagnosed with cancer in his neck which spread to his liver during chemotherapy treatment. Despite numerous treatments, in August 2017, doctors gave Schoolfield approximately one year to live.
Now, the team and other parent mentors are championing Schoolfield’s cause. They are coordinating meals for the kids while Schoolfield’s wife, Monica, works nights. And they are scrambling to fund a scholarship in his honor that he could see awarded to a deserving student before his train’s last stop.
“Ervin and I have been talking about this since the beginning of the school year, about starting a scholarship fund,” said parent mentor Naomi Lohmann. “I mentioned it and he just gave me a big smile.”
“I would hate to see a kid go through this program and not be able to go to college because of lack of funding,” said Schoolfield. “This is a college prep program, and this seems to attract students who get super high scores on college entrance exams. If it helps inspire a kid to get involved in robotics, it’s worth it.”
If you would like to donate to the Ervin Schoolfield scholarship fund, you can contribute via this campaign on GoFundMe.com. Those interested in providing a meal or the cost of a meal for the Schoolfield kids can get involved with this link. Any other inquiries may be directed to Lohmann at the Red Nation Robotics email address, email@example.com.