UPDATE! Today is Sept. 19, and it is Kevin's birthday! Over the three months since we posted this blog entry, cards, letters and boxes have been rolling in nearly every day. Thanks to hundreds of our fellow universities, professional sports organizations both major and minor and contributions from individual fans and collectors, we were able to give Kevin literally thousands of cards, promotional items and memorabilia today. Check out this video below to see how it went!
We in Northwestern Athletics have a friend we want to introduce to you. His name is Kevin Schneider, and you can't miss him at our games.
Kevin is a 35-year-old graduate of Evanston Township High School and has worked at the Dominick's grocery store on Green Bay Road just north of our athletic offices for 17 years. He's a sports fanatic, is active in the Evanston and Chicago communities and has one of the biggest hearts we've ever experienced. He also has a developmental disability, which makes him all the more -- as he would say -- "amazing."
Kevin has a couple of passions in life that he shares with us, in particular his love of all 19 of our NU varsity sports teams and his schedule card collection from teams across the country. We thank our season ticket holders and boosters in a myriad of ways, and we want to extend the same thank you to Kevin in a way that's unique and special by launching "Schedule Cards for Kevin." We are asking our alumni, fans, family and fellow athletic programs to drop a schedule card in the mail to us so that we can make Kevin's collection as big as the heart he shares daily with our coaches, student-athletes and staff. Continue reading for the details and to get to know Kevin a little bit better!
Kevin has been a mainstay at our athletic events for years. For a long time he came only to the free sports until staff members began donating season tickets to him -- now unless he's on the schedule at Dominick's or has an event with Center for Independent Futures (an organization he is quite active in), he doesn't miss a game. He records basketball and football games to see later and usually is among the first to arrive at Buffalo Wild Wings when they host an NU watch party.
On most days, whether he's on his way to work or on vacation, he stops by our offices for an extended chat. Ask Kevin about any team in Chicago, from the Bears and Blackhawks to the pro hockey Chicago Express, the pro softball Chicago Bandits and the professional women's football Chicago Force and Kevin has plenty to say. He knows how they did last night and when their next game is. His visit is not complete until you visit their website to check out upcoming promotions, TV schedules and the forecast. "I don't like the rain, not one bit," is a common Kevin refrain.
He knows who our favorite teams are, especially during baseball season. He knows that I love the San Francisco Giants, so when the Cubs made their recent four-game trip to AT&T Park, Kevin came in to tell me what times the games were and on what channels. He told me who was broadcasting and the pitching matchups. From memory.
When we have co-workers in our office with teams squaring off, Kevin loves to come tease us about it. Two Mondays ago when the Cubs and Giants played a matinee, he dropped by to watch a few innings with me in my office. "Hey Julie," he called out to lifelong Cubs fan Julie Dunn, whose office is across the hall. "Cubs are down 2-0 to the Giants right now! You hear that score, Julie?" And then he laughs.
Kevin also is a diehard White Sox fan.
He is engaged in his community. How many city council meetings or public transit information sessions have you attended where you live? Probably less than Kevin. He reads the newspapers cover to cover. He is active with CIF in Evanston, particularly Rob Cambell's Fun Club, and other organizations that assist adults with disabilities like Kevin's in leading a more full and rich life.
Kevin was one of the first three clients of Lekotek, which provided toys and play experience for children with disabilities. Lekotek was acquired by Anixter, an organization that helped place him in his job at Dominick's. Nine years ago, Kevin moved from his family home into a Community Living Option through CIF. There, he lived in an apartment with two other young men. Rotary International spotlighted Kevin in feature article several years ago.
For Kevin there are no obstacles or destinations that a ride on his bike or a four-connection trip on Chicago's vast network of trains and buses can't solve -- except one. And that is where you come in!
One outgrowth of Kevin's love of sports is a voracious appetite for collecting schedule cards and promotional items. He'll take a city bus as far as he needs to if he knows a Chicago Fire schedule card is on the other end.
Kevin has our travel schedules memorized. When one of our sports is hitting the road to Michigan, Kevin stops by to ask us to bring back schedule cards for the Pistons, Tigers and Lions. He once famously asked head baseball coach Paul Stevens to get him a schedule card during their next road trip -- during the fifth inning of a home game. We have some success seeking out cards, but are limited by group travel and destinations.
Bottom line: We love Kevin, and we're asking for your help. Northwestern's alumni network and fans form a true national base. Wherever you are located, pick up a schedule card from your local team, be it college, semi-pro, minor league, male, female or the New York Football Giants. Drop it in the mail to us at the address below. Ask your friends and family to do the same.
You rarely see pure joy like the wide eyes, bright smile and shaking hands that come to Kevin every time we hand him a card. For a fan who builds a big part of his life around supporting our student-athletes and programs, and who has been a great friend to our staff, thank you in advance for helping us say thank you to Kevin.
As Kevin says: "Great job, Wildcats! Amazing!"
Send any schedule cards or ballpark promos you may have to:
Schedule Cards for Kevin
c/o Northwestern Athletic Communications
1501 Central St.Evanston, IL 60208