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Editorial: In Emily Scheck's story, a tale of finding acceptance

Emily Scheck, the Canisius College sophomore who became estranged from her parents after they discovered she is gay, is probably tired of the attention she has received since her plight became a news story last week. However, she won’t soon forget the way that friends and strangers stepped up to support her.

Scheck, who competes in cross country and track for the college, said that her parents cut her off financially after seeing pictures on social media of Scheck with her girlfriend, Justyna Wilkinson. Scheck receives a partial athletic scholarship. She told The News her parents wanted her to relinquish the scholarship and return to her home in Webster, Monroe County, to undergo counseling. Her father, Timothy, drove a carload of Emily’s belongings to Buffalo and left them in her car, from which he removed the license plates, she says. The family would no longer pay for her car insurance.

Scheck stayed at Canisius but was struggling financially until her roommate, Grace Hausladen, started on online GoFundMe campaign for her earlier this month. The goal was to raise $5,000. Scheck announced this week that contributions to the campaign had topped $100,000 and she has stopped accepting donations.

There are other college students, in Buffalo and nationwide, with greater financial needs, but Scheck’s story touched a chord in hundreds of people after reading about her in The News and Outsports. The Washington Post, New York Daily News and Yahoo Sports also covered the story.

Scheck’s father has said there is another side to the story. He said her family loves Scheck and accepts her sexual orientation, but that other issues are involved.

“It’s a private family matter,” he said. “We love our daughter. We accept Emily.”

After the GoFundMe page was created, the college alerted the NCAA, which initially warned Scheck that she would have to return the donations if she wanted to remain on the cross-country team. After inquiries from The News, the NCAA changed course last Friday and said Scheck could retain her eligibility to play sports with the GoFundMe page active.

The GoFundMe page is filled with comments from people supporting Scheck. An Amherst woman invited her to Thanksgiving dinner. An executive from a Rochester company told Scheck to contact him when she’s looking for a job. Scheck, 19, is studying marketing.

Thanksgiving week can be stressful for any family, even when there’s no major disagreement between parents and a grown child. The Scheck family deserves to be in our thoughts, as their daughter finds support while standing on her own.

Scheck summed up her experience: “I now know that family is not always something you have, but something you find.”

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