Unison Credit Union raised more than $3,000 during their annual Casual for a Cause fundraiser last year. The funds have been donated to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations to support patients with cancer. This donation from Unison Credit Union hits close to home – one of their team members is currently undergoing treatment for cancer at the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center.
Deana Schemm of Kaukauna was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer with metastasis to the liver and the lungs last March. Since then, her life has been consumed with a series of overwhelmingly difficult and precious moments that she said she does not take for granted. She has spent several months receiving treatment and surgery, while also cherishing her time with loved ones.
“When you get that diagnosis it just turns everything upside down,” said Schemm. “I did not want anyone to know at first. I was working at the Unison Credit Union corporate office in Kaukauna at the time, and spoke with our President/CEO, Mark, and Chief Operating Officer, Cathy. They provided phenomenal support for me. They were truly concerned about my well-being, not just my work.”
Schemm has been a faithful employee of Unison Credit Union for 28 years. She loves her job and co-workers, and also finds joy in helping people. Co-workers said she is one of the most compassionate and giving people they know.
“If you know Deana as a person, she’s a friend to everyone,” said Kelli Clussman, Chief Marketing Officer at Unison Credit Union. “When my daughter, who is now 17-years-old, was born, Deana and her husband came to the hospital and brought us a gift and food. When she received this diagnosis, it hit us all. We wanted to wrap our arms around her and her family.”
Schemm said she always felt supported by her family, friends and co-workers, near and far. So much so, that on the day Deana had surgery to remove her cancer, she had more than 200 people from her workplace, her campground community, family and friends wearing T-shirts in her honor. The shirts said “No One Fights Alone” with a graphic design of a ninja fighting.
“I have three grandchildren and our middle grandchild had given me a temporary ninja tattoo and she told me, ‘Grandma, you fight like a ninja’,” Schemm recalled. “Every day that I had chemotherapy treatment, we would put on those tattoos. When it came time for surgery, my sister had designed T-shirts to wear on my surgery day. I cried when I heard about all of the people who were also wearing the shirts.”
Clussman said that when Unison Credit Union learned Schemm’s family was making T-shirts to show support, the company wanted to get involved. Unison Credit Union bought a T-shirt for every employee, and they wore them on the day of Schemm’s surgery.
“We want her to know that she is not alone,” said Clussman. “We love her so much and we’re here for her. While she is fighting this battle, we want her to know that we are behind her. Her health comes first.”
Schemm’s employer, along with co-workers, have offered several ways to help ease the burden of her cancer treatment. Many co-workers have given small gifts, words of encouragement, cards, flowers and much more. She has also been working from home, during the hours that work best for her.
Supporting A Friend and Others
Every year, Unison Credit Union collects a small donation from employees on Fridays in exchange for the opportunity for staff to wear jeans. At the end of the year, employees vote on where they would like to donate the funds. This year, they chose an organization that helped one of their own.
“I had no idea it would go to the ThedaCare Cancer Care Fund,” said Schemm. “It was a complete surprise, and just blew me away. I’m just touched beyond words for everything they’ve done for me.”
This generous gift will help enrich the lives of patients who are also currently in treatment for cancer.
“We’re so grateful for Unison Credit Union’s support,” said Erin Tyink, Regional Development Director with the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. “We’re able to help enhance the patient experience thanks to our generous community.”
The funds were donated to the ThedaCare Cancer Care Fund, which focuses on bringing any form of comfort, peace and support to patients who are receiving treatment for cancer.
“Deana’s story is so incredible because people wanted to show their support for her, and are able to help others in their cancer journey as well,” said Tyink. “It is a great example of how local businesses and employers can make a tremendous difference in the lives of our patients.”
Tyink explained that a donation to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations can be in any amount. It can be directed to a specific cause, supporting an area that is meaningful to the donor and/or donors Donations from the community today, like the outpouring of support for Deanna, can help benefit and make a difference in the lives of others tomorrow.
“My husband, Bob and I feel God has blessed us with all the love and support from our family, friends, co-workers and more,” said Schemm. “It brings us much joy to know that these funds will be shared to help others experiencing a similar situation.”
Schemm is still receiving treatment at the Regional Cancer Center. She said that if her cancer is stable, she and her husband hope to take a trip this fall to celebrate their 40 years of marriage.
Heart of a Donor Series
This article is the third in a planned series featuring generous donors who support the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Donations to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations help fund projects and programs on many levels across the system.
If you know a donor, or community organization, who has a connection to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, and believe should be featured in the “Heart of a Donor” series, please email Foundations@thedacare.org. To learn more about the ThedaCare Family of Foundations and the impact of donor support, please visit thedacare.org/Foundations.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.