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Compassion Project: the Gage Schroeder story

Gage Schroeder

“Gage Schroeder lived his life to fullest,”— reads the lead sentence on a pamphlet for the Compassion Club.

Gage was a gifted student.

He was a star athlete and a compassionate heart.

His life is now creating a legacy of kindness.

On any given Wednesday at Franklin High School, students are choosing to stay in class, instead of heading out for lunch, as part of the Compassion Club.

Franklin student Kobe Nelms says, “School is not always the happiest place.”

Peer pressure and coming of age, can make high school one of the toughest transition times for kids.

“It can get a little stressful you know, thinking about college but also keeping like a social life," says Larissa Guevara, a Franklin High School student.

It’s standing room only in the Compassion Club today, and students say they love coming and getting involved.

The Compassion Club was founded by Brittni and Adam Schroeder--, a mom and dad desperate for healing from one of the worst things that can happen to a parent. Their son, Gage, died at 14 last May. Out of respect for his family, we agreed not to focus on his death, so instead we are shining a spotlight on his life and the kind of person he was.

The Schroeders say they miss him every single day.

“We always knew that he was an awesome kid, but we just had no idea the impact that he had on so many people,” said Brittni.

The Compassion Club at Franklin High School is now helping to create a safe place for kids. The Schroeders were compelled to create something that would encompass the values the Gage lived every day.

“It was the most difficult experience to know that we are not going to be able to have those experiences with him anymore,” says Adam Schroeder.

Adam and Brittni say Gage was a happy kid, and was always trying to make people smile.

Brittni says, “He was very intuitive, and he knew when something was wrong with people and he was just so caring and kind.”

Perhaps the thing he'll be remembered for the most is his compassion. Brittni says Gage did not discriminate. He was friends with everyone and was kind to everyone. So from his passing, the Compassion Club was given life.

“As a mom, one of the hardest things is you don't want people to forget about your kid and we wanted his legacy to live on,” says Brittni.

The Schroeders showed us the hundreds of cards and letters they received after Gage's death -- each one a memory of how he touched a life.

Adam says, “We wanted to teach compassion to the youth because we really feel that a lot of them are struggling.”

And because The Compassion Club is a place where everyone is welcome, it doesn't matter what your grades are like, or if you’re an athlete. The focus is to be kind and compassionate and to bring kids together. In the age of social media, kids can become more aware of how they engage each other online.

“They've learned to comment things to each other that you probably wouldn't say to someone's face,” says Adam.

The students are Franklin High School have embraced The Compassion Club. They proudly wear their compassion shirts around campus.

Larissa Guevara says, “Getting not only the school together, but just his close friends and everyone that came out of shadows taking a stance saying it is the right thing to be nicer to others.”

Kobe Nelms says,”I've noticed a really big change in the environment around here.”

The club also focuses on doing something kind every week, while keeping Gage’s memory alive.

Summer Sullivan says, "We've eaten lunch with kids who are sitting alone to make them feel better and welcome."

“He was friends with everybody and he had such a big impact on everyone, and you can see that after his passing the whole school came together," says Jadyn Nelms.

The Compassion Club is now expanding to other schools. There are currently three in Michigan and five in El Paso. The Schroeders say their goal is to have 150 clubs by the end of the year across El Paso schools.

Back at home, Gage's bedroom is still with memories, with the word "life" hanging in a picture above his bed. It is a reminder of the boy who spread compassion wherever he went.

“When all was said and done when he was gone, what people remembered the most was not that he was smart, or that he was a wrestler, but that he was kind,” said Brittni.

“What we have learned is that we've been shown a lot of compassion from people around us, and a lot of people learned that compassion from Gage,” said Adam.

For more information on the Compassion Club:

www.showcompassion.org

Instagram: compassion_club

Facebook.com/showcompassion.org

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