A week after being airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver, Schafer Reichart’s story has made an impact more than 1,250 miles away at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Reichart, a sophomore on the Doherty basketball team and a big Buckeye fan, continues his fight after admittance to Children’s Hospital a week ago with a life-threatening infection. Since, the Doherty basketball team and other squads around the Colorado Springs area began a #RedforSchafer campaign on social media, using red to honor his love for Ohio State.
In the days following the campaign’s kickoff the Reichart family has received a number of videos from former Ohio State basketball players, current coaches, and one in-person visit from Doherty alumnus and current assistant head coach for the Buckeye football team.
Tony Alford, assistant head coach for offense/running backs at Ohio State, and Doherty class of 1987, paid the Reichart family a visit Wednesday.
“I understand he’s a huge Buckeye fan and he’s going through a lot right now,” Alford said. “It’s heartbreaking to see a young guy go through that. ... It was good to see the family. They are an extremely powerful family and the mom and dad are very faithful.”
In a video posted to Facebook, Reichart, who still had a tube down his throat, was nodding to Alford’s questions.
“When you get up and moving I want you to get your mom and dad to get you to Columbus and come see us,” Alford told Reichart in the video, in which Reichart responded with a nod.
“I think I know a few people who can get him tickets,” Alford said after his visit.
After Alford’s visit, doctors removed Reichart’s ventilator tube from his throat — another huge step in his recovery.
Reichart’s first words after the ventilator was out were, “Can you blow my nose?,” according to a post from his father, Paul Reichart on Facebook.
District 11 athletic director Chris Noll, who attended Doherty with Alford’s brother, reached out to Alford asking to send a video message to Schafer. Alford happened to be on a recruiting trip in California, and flew to Colorado to meet the family in person.
“I have some things to do in the area and I’m leaving again tomorrow,” Alford said. “I was glad I was able to take a minute to go see the family. ... I follow what is going on (at Doherty) as an alumnus. I have a soft spot for the things at that school.”
Alford played basketball and football for Doherty and played football at Colorado State before playing a preseason with the Broncos.
He has been a coach for 26 seasons, and has been with Ohio State for four years. He also coached at Notre Dame, Louisville, Iowa State, Washington, Kent State and others.
Prior to the removal of the ventilator, Reichart posted on Facebook that Schafer was alert and saw vast improvements in his consciousness.
“I walked in the room and his eyes were open and tracked with me!” Paul Reichart posted. “I felt like I had my Schaf back for a couple of minutes. You can see he tried to smile with a tube down his throat.”
Chris Holtmann, the coach of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, sent Reichart a message Wednesday morning.
“Buckeyes are tough, and we know you are too, Schafer,” Holtmann said in the video. “We know how big of a Buckeye fan you are and as you go through this battle we want to make sure you know you’re not going through it alone. We are thinking about you and pulling for you. … Go Schafer, and go Bucks.”
Josh Perry, who played for Ohio State from 2012-15 and was a linebacker for the NFL’s Chargers, Colts and Seahawks, sent Reichart a video Tuesday. Aaron Craft (OSU point guard, 2010-14 ), Shannon Scott (OSU guard, 2011-15), Sam Thompson (OSU forward, 2011-15) and Deshaun Thomas (OSU small forward, 2010-13) also sent get-well videos to Reichart.
“It speaks volumes to the type of people we have at Ohio State,” Alford said. “We talk about our fan base being the strongest in the country and we appreciate them. I think our athletes and our coaches are all on board with a responsibility to influence others and help one another and to be a service to the community.”
More than 3,600 people have joined a private Facebook group to send videos and words of encouragement to the Reichart family and a post on Facebook said 300 people have visited the hospital in the last week. As of Wednesday afternoon more than $26,600 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign.
A week ago Reichart was airlifted to Children’s Hospital after a case of Influenza A turned into a host of serious viral infections that targeted his organs. The doctors immediately placed him on a number of life-saving mechanisms, including ECMO life-support for his heart, a ventilator for his lungs and dialysis. Since, the ECMO machine and ventilator have been removed.