What Win The Day Means to Our Community

The meaning of Win The Day to the Schroeder family and the story of Austin 'Flash' Schroeder.

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What Win The Day Means to Our Community

The logo the family designed after Austin passed away in 2015

The logo the family designed after Austin passed away in 2015

FWF Foundation

The logo the family designed after Austin passed away in 2015

FWF Foundation

FWF Foundation

The logo the family designed after Austin passed away in 2015

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The phrase, Win The Day (WTD) has lots of different meanings in our community and throughout the country from a collegiate football team to a cancer battle. In our community, Win The Day refers to Austin Schroeder, a 15 year old that lost his life to T-Cell Lymphoma cancer.  

Craig Schroeder, father of Austin and Cody Schroeder, junior, coached Austin’s 12-and-under Trojans club baseball team with a completely new mindset. Coaching a club baseball requires a lot of mentoring along with coaching. The team had been winning roughly 90% of their games, but when 2012 came around, the team started losing games and constantly got down on themselves. This team wasn’t used to losing, so Craig started looking for other ways to inspire his players.

Craig decided to look to Austin’s favorite football team for inspiration, the Oregon Ducks. Oregon had came up with the motto WTD in 2009 when Chip Kelly took over as head coach. The meaning was to simply win each and everything you do in life. 

Whenever something isn’t going very well in life, WTD just reminds me to keep going and that things could always be worse”

— Cody Schroeder

Craig would bring a whiteboard to practices and games with two sayings that helped define WTD: “attitude & effort” and “shake & bake”.

Some believe there are two things that people can control in life: attitude and effort. Craig constantly reminded his team that no matter how uncontrollable obstacles in life can be, your effort and your attitude are always up to you. 

“It doesn’t matter what sport you are playing.  No matter the score at the end of each game, ask yourself, did I give my best effort?  Was I the best teammate I could be? Did I play with, and did I win or lose with good sportsmanship?” said Craig. 

“Shake & bake”, comes from the movie Talladega Nights, and was a reminder to always have fun. Mistakes are going to happen, and people are always going to get knocked down in life, but it’s ultimately how they respond. After facing adversity, the way you respond shows the type of person you are.

After developing this mindset, the Schroeder’s knew they could take on all challenges life has to offer. Little did they know, the challenge they were about to face was the most difficult one yet.

After a spring break trip to Mexico in 2014, Austin had complained about a golf ball sized lump in his groin. In so much pain that Austin could barely walk, Craig took him to the hospital where they treated it as an infection due to a scrape on his foot. After more swelling, Austin went in for biopsies. 

In April of that year, when Austin was 14 years old, he was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma, a rare type of cancer that is found in the white blood cells. Austin, also known as ‘Flash’ from baseball since early childhood, was in for the fight of his life.

Craig Schroeder
Austin with siblings Cody and Haley in the hospital

“I don’t think I was prepared to accept a cancer diagnosis. I was so afraid of what the outcome could possibly be, that I was driven to stay focus on one day at a time,” said Anne Johnson, very close family friend.

With the family having full faith in the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, they agreed it is where Austin would start treatment immediately. They began with chemotherapy regimens for 30 days, which is a common cancer treatment. The treatment was unsuccessful. Instead of seeing signs that the cancer was shrinking, the cancer persisted and continued to grow. The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital then partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to provide Austin with treatment specific to his cancer that had never before been provided at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Right after undergoing a second round of chemotherapy, Austin got to play what would be his final baseball game ever. Austin then went through a bone marrow transplant.

 

 

Craig Schroeder
Austin ‘Flash’ Schroeder playing in his final baseball game in Illinois

About 30 days after the transplant, Austin was able to go home for about a month but while at home, he had a seizure, which brought him back to the hospital. The doctors told the family that the cancer was still there and it was bigger than it had been before. The cancer had spread into his brain and continued to grow in his abdomen and chest. After returning from the intensive care unit, he needed to reach certain health requirements to be eligible to receive another round of chemotherapy. 

After about 30 days of being confined in his room, Austin was healthy enough to leave his room and walk around the hospital. However, he would periodically need to stop to catch his breath. At one of the stops, Craig and Stacy Schroeder, mother of the boys, sat down and had a little talk. Their main focus was WTD and his cancer.

We listed all the positives we had that day.  He was alive. We got to leave the unit and go for a walk.  We can hug each other and tell each other that we love each other.  No matter how tough a day seems, we just need to find one positive and focus on that.  That cancer doesn’t get to decide what a win is; we do!” Craig said.

Later into his fight, Austin told Craig and Stacy that it was unfair that younger kids have to go through what he was going through. He said that he was going to beat cancer and come back to the children’s hospital to talk to the kids about WTD and never giving up. 

After a long hard fought battle, Austin passed away on April 28th, 2015. A day that the Schroeder family will never forget. Two things about that date, if you add up all the digits of the date 4/28/2015 it equals 22, Austin’s number in all sports. Also April 28th being national superhero day, Austin’s nickname was Flash. Just a couple of days later on May 1st, Austins funeral was held in Iowa City at Saint Patrick Catholic Church. This day brought the whole family and community together in one place to remember Austin’s amazing life.

In honor of Austin, the Schroeder family started the Fight With Flash Foundation. This foundation would carry on his wish to help other kids and families that unfortunately have to battle this horrible disease called cancer. 

FWF Foundation
The FWF Golf Outing at Brown Deer Golf Club

Although Austin is not with us today, his message still lives on. To this day, he continues to impact lives in our community.

“We see it from all the texts, calls, messages, conversations, and posts that people give.  That Austin has touched their hearts, that he has given them so much hope, and brought so much love and understanding to their lives,” said Craig. 

To carry on Austin’s legacy, the family speaks at many dance marathons around Iowa. They also hold events around Iowa City to help raise money and awareness. One is the Fight With Flash Crosstown Baseball Classic, which is where 6 teams come together and play a game in Flash’s honor. Another being their annual Golf Outing at Brown Deer, people from all over gather for a fun day of golf and Flash. 

If you are interested in helping honor Flash, you can join Liberty High Difference Makers. They donate part of their grand total from the Big to the Fight With Flash Foundation. Also, you can continue Austins legacy by volunteering at the new Stead Family Children’s Hospital.