Schroeder’s big heart matches his big arm
by  Jerry Schroeder DATE_FORMAT_LC5

Schroeder, SouthLake Christian Academy's senior quarterback, is closing in on the Congressional Award Gold Medal. To earn the award, students must grow and challenge themselves in four areas – public service (400 hours), physical fitness (200 hours), personal development (200 hours) and exploration/expedition (four days).

by Cliff Mehrtens - full article posted from Huntersville Herald

HUNTERSVILLE – Randy Schroeder didn't exactly tiptoe into volunteer work, with some daylong project or a weekend plan.

He aimed high and is about to reach a lofty goal.

Schroeder, SouthLake Christian Academy's senior quarterback, is closing in on the Congressional Award Gold Medal. To earn the award, students must grow and challenge themselves in four areas – public service (400 hours), physical fitness (200 hours), personal development (200 hours) and exploration/expedition (four days).

"The greatest feeling in the world is when you help someone else and realize there's something greater than yourself," Schroeder said. "It is a very satisfying feeling."

Randy-Schroeder-199x300Schroeder has logged a large chunk of his volunteer hours as part of the Ghana Rock team, a group of local teenagers who organized a benefit concert to raise funds and awareness about child slavery in Ghana, a West African nation.

Proceeds from the 2012 concert will go directly to City of Refuge Ministries, which helps Ghana children into safe houses.

"We've done it two years and when we started I thought if we raised $10,000 it would be good," Schroeder said. "But we've raised close to $100,000."

The Ghana Rock team meets in the late fall to plan the spring concert.

Schroeder also did community service work this summer at Mooresville Soup Kitchen. This fall he plans to volunteer with a local youth football program.

"Randy has been a great kid," said Jennifer Schroeder, his mother. "He has had a tender heart toward the Lord since he's been little."

Jennifer nudged Randy toward working for the Congressional Award last year. He'd been home-schooled through 10th grade, and Jennifer Schroeder was always looking for outside activities for her children (she also has two daughters).

"We knew some people who had tried (for the award) and I thought it would be a cool thing to do," Randy Schroeder said. "I was home-schooled, and I think it legitimized that I wasn't lazy or anything. Even though it's a lot of hours, I have enjoyed every one of them. I look forward to it now."

All the volunteer work must be completed in a 24-month span.

"I think it has put Randy in situations sometimes that aren't comfortable for him, but he's learned how to deal with those," Jennifer Schroeder said. "He has learned to talk to adults. He's learned to manage his time, and he's met a broad spectrum of people. All those are life skills that will help him as an adult."

Randy Schroeder must also complete 200 hours of physical fitness training, which hasn't been a problem thanks to football training.

The 200-hour personal development requirement has pushed Randy Schroeder into several activities. He joined a debate team a few years ago, and formed his own lawn-mowing company.

For the exploration requirement, Schroeder had to research, plan and direct a family trip that included four consecutive nights out of town. The Schroeders went to Washington, D.C., where Randy mapped out a plan that didn't include the family vehicle. They navigated the bus and subway systems instead.

Randy's final 30 volunteer hours will be finished soon, and he's realized he'll likely volunteer as long as he can.

"From the beginning, it's never really been work to me," he said. "I plan to continue volunteering, even if there is no medal to win."

One of Schroeder's biggest challenges is time management. School started last week. He juggles that with football games and practices, and fills in the cracks with volunteer work. Sometimes the schedule can get a bit daunting.

"It's definitely a challenge," he said, laughing. "But my mom taught me how to manage my school work and football."

Mom felt a twinge of pride last week when Randy told her he had a school paper to write for Thursday, but instead plowed through it a couple days ahead of schedule.

Schroeder's football season got off to a flying start in a 48-0 victory against Westminster Catawba on Aug. 17. He passed for 200 yards and three touchdowns. He said he feels comfortable as a returning starter. And his thoughts are never too far away from the volunteering goal. Next summer, he's planning a trip to Ghana to meet some of the rescued children.

"I feel extremely blessed to live in such a great country," Schroeder said, "and help people who don't have as much as we do."