Quinnipiac superheroes create memorable experience for special little girl

The Acrobatics and Tumbling team and Love Your Melon Super Crew smile with Reese in the recreation center.

Coming together for a great little girl

The Acrobatics and Tumbling team worked with the Quinnipiac Love Your Melon Campus Crew to help 5-year-old Reese Schenker realize her dream of doing gymnastics with elite athletes. Reese is stable after efforts to remove tumors on her aorta and spine.

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or most of 5-year-old Reese Schenker's life, she has battled tumors growing around her aorta and spine. The life-threatening stage 3 neuroblastoma cancer left her paralyzed, unable to walk or move independently. However, thanks to the great care of her doctors and unwavering support of her family, she was able to reach a stable state, regaining the ability to walk — and celebrate her accomplishments through a partnership with the Quinnipiac Love Your Melon Campus Crew.

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“A year and a half ago, Reese’s tumor was compressing on her spinal cord and she was rapidly losing her ability to stand and walk. She had to have an emergency surgery to help save her from becoming permanently paralyzed,” said her mom, Allyson. “She was hours away from never being able to walk again. The feeling of seeing Reese after chemo treatments and two major life-threatening surgeries smiling, running and tumbling with the Superhero Crew and Acrobatics and Tumbling team is priceless. She had such a great time and knowing there are such caring and generous students at Quinnipiac makes me smile.”

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Reese holds her hands up in triumph with the team.

Going for gold

Reese Schenker, 5, does acrobatics with our Division I Acrobatics and Tumbling team.

That’s one of the benefits of the Quinnipiac Love Your Melon crew, it’s able to create unforgettable, day-long adventures tailored to patients’ favorite activities. It wasn’t difficult for the Quinnipiac crew to come up with the perfect activity for Reese after learning that gymnastics is one of her favorite activities.

“Having Reese here with us for her Superhero Adventure on Sunday was inspiring to me and our whole crew,” said Amy Lafleur ‘18, event manager for Quinnipiac Love Your Melon. “Her bubbly personality and loving support from her parents radiated to all of us. I am so thankful to have met Reese and give her a day that made her feel special. It showed me that one small act of kindness and compassion can make anyone's day a little brighter.”

Student Experience

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Reese wears a cape and Love Your Melon hat.

A real-life super hero

Reese Schenker strikes a pose outside of our Rocky Top Student Center.

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The Acrobatics and Tumbling team took a break from its preparations for next week’s NCATA national championships to spend part of their day with Reese.

“After practice ended, the team formed a runway for Reese to show off all the gymnastics skills she learned,” Lafleur said. “Cheers echoed throughout the Athletics and Recreation Center as the athletes cheered her on.”

After competing with some of America’s best gymnasts, Reese enjoyed making arts and crafts and sharing pizza and cookies with the light-hearted Love Your Melon team. Reese’s contentment with the day shone through on her car ride home, as she slept and snored the entire way.