A Division I NCAA Cross Country runner from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, was disowned by her family earlier this year after she came out to them as a lesbian, telling her parents before the start of the school year that she had a girlfriend.
Emily Scheck, a 19-year-old sophomore at the Catholic school, said that her parents gave her a choice upon finding out she was a lesbian, according to reporting from the Washington Post. She could either come home right away to receive what her parents described as therapy to try and make her straight, or she would be completely cut off from the family and their financial support.
Scheck chose the latter option.
“Well, I am done with you,” her mom wrote her in a text message after Scheck’s mind was made up. “As of right now, declare yourself independent. You are on your own. Please don’t contact us or your siblings.”
With only $20 to her name, Scheck didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, one of her friends and teammates, Grace Hausladen, had an idea. She opened up a GoFundMe page to help Scheck with expenses for the year.
Their initial goal of $5,000 was soon surpassed, and as of Monday the account has raised more than $65,000 for Scheck, per their GoFundMe page.
UPDATE: The NCAA and Canisius College have announced that Emily Scheck can keep her donations and eligibility. https://t.co/7Y8iigvRNQ— Cyd Zeigler (@CydZeigler) November 16, 2018
There was a problem, however: NCAA rules for student athletes prohibits them from accepting donations of this kind. So Hausladen and Scheck had to make another tough choice.
“Emily and I both came to the decision that this money can help her more than running or the school ever will,” Hausladen wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page, according to reporting from NBC News. “With this money, Emily will be able to buy her books, pay her tuition, purchase health and car insurance, pay her phone bill, or her rent.”
But when the NCAA caught wind of the story, they determined that Scheck should not be disqualified on the basis of her receiving funds to help pay for school and her attendant living expenses.
“Emily Scheck can retain her eligibility and continue to receive GoFundMe donations that assist her with living and educational expenses,” the organization wrote in a message posted to Twitter.
Following the decision, Hausladen updated her GoFundMe page for her friend to let everyone know the news. “Love is love,” she wrote, adding a heart-shaped emoji at the end of her sentence.