Nursing alumna’s life-saving efforts result in DAISY Award, everlasting gratitude, friendship

by | May 21, 2017

Kara Schneider and Kenny Rosenkoetter will likely be friends for life – ever since the day she helped save his.
Kara Schneider, DAISY Award

Kara Schneider graduated from UMSL’s College of Nursing in December 2016. Less than six months later, she was honored with a DAISY Award for her role in saving Kenny Rosenkoetter’s life. (Photos by August Jennewein)

In the bright lobby of DePaul Hospital May 12, as her friends and family, former professors and nursing colleagues celebrated and spoke with news reporters, Kara Schneider stood holding a bouquet of flowers.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna, who graduated from the College of Nursing less than six months ago, had just been the guest of honor at a surprise ceremony in which she was presented with a DAISY Award for nursing excellence.

Kara Schneider, Rosenkoetters

Schneider (center) is pictured here with Kenny Rosenkoetter, his wife Megan, and their daughter Livvy. As far as Schneider is concerned, they’re friends for life.

A woman passing through, who had no connection to the ceremony, approached Schneider.

“What did you win an award for?” the woman asked.

Schneider smiled and extended her flowers for the woman to smell.

“Well, for being in the right place at the right time, I think.”

In a nutshell, that’s how Schneider views the events of April 13, a day on which her quick action at a community softball game changed her life and helped save someone else’s.

Thirty-year-old Kenny Rosenkoetter was rounding the bases – as he had many times before – when he suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Seeing the commotion from the stands, where Kenny’s wife and young children were also watching, Schneider ran down to the field and began CPR. With the help of the umpire and another nurse, she continued her efforts until further help arrived.

As Rosenkoetter’s mother-in-law described in a Facebook post that later became part of Schneider’s DAISY Award nomination, “she was kneeling in the dirt, surrounded by a large group of shocked and terrified people, yet she stayed focused and calm. Every paramedic, ER medical staff member and cardiologist who fought to save his life, said the same thing: Without the quick action she took, there would have been a very different outcome.”

Indeed, that the day could have ended differently is something Schneider says she’s thought about often over the course of the past five weeks – especially as she’s kept in touch through Rosenkoetter’s recovery and gotten to know him and his family better.

“She visited me in the hospital and brought us dinner,” said Rosenkoetter, who was present for the surprise at DePaul with the flowers for Schneider in hand. “In fact, just this morning, she was texting to check on us. She wanted to know how we’re doing and what our dinner plans are.”

Kara Schneider, two families

The Rosenkoetter family (at right) and the Schneiders (at left) have been getting to know each other and plan to keep in touch.

For Rosenkoetter, Schneider’s actions are all “above and beyond,” but to her, they’re just “what anyone would do.” And she doesn’t plan on changing her ways any time soon.

“Kenny and his entire family are hands down the most loving and appreciative people I have had the pleasure of knowing,” she said. “I feel like our paths crossed for an intentional reason, and I will uphold our newly founded friendship for as long as we are all able to. It has been so cool watching our families mingle and become familiar with each other.”

In fact, as the two families chatted before the surprise at DePaul, a joke could be overheard: “We really are seeing a lot of each other. You’re going to have to fill us in on what your Thanksgiving arrangements are soon.”

As for Schneider’s parents, watching their daughter offer such compassion is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less thrilled to see her in the spotlight.

“Proud, amazed, overwhelmed, there’s probably not enough words to accurately describe it,” Schneider’s dad added as he watched the celebration at the hospital wind down.

Kara Schneider, DAISY Award crowd

The lobby at DePaul Hospital was jam-packed on May 12 as a full crowd gathered to celebrate Kara Schneider and witness her DAISY Award surprise.

“She has always had a heart of gold,” her mom said. “She’s always been someone who wanted to take care of people and make people’s lives better, so this makes sense in a lot of ways.”

When Schneider was growing up, teaching and nursing were always at the top of her list of potential future careers.

It was the experience of losing her grandfather in high school, and the coinciding realization of what a difference the right amount of care and compassion from nurses could make, that swayed her toward the medical profession.

Eventually, she chose UMSL, which as it turns out, tends to run in the family. Her dad is an alumnus, and her aunt was in the second-ever graduating class of the BSN program.

College of Nursing Dean Susan Dean-Baar, who was also present for the DAISY Award festivities, said she was honored to have the chance to celebrate Schneider.

“There’s just an immense sense of pride,” she said, “because you know when they graduate what their potential is, but to actually have the opportunity to see them come into their own sense of confidence and make a difference in such a way – it’s very special. It’s more than amazing.”

For Schneider, all of the praise – though she appreciates it and feels the love ­­­­– can be hard to take. She circles back to the belief that she was “a qualified bystander,” who was there when she was needed. And she’s absolutely adamant that she wasn’t the only one.

“There were many other instrumental people involved in this process,” she says. “To the other nurse and the umpire who also lent their skills to the situation, thank you. Together, we were able to make sure that little Livvy and Jack have their daddy. That is what makes me the most proud – that those little babies will have many years with their beautiful family.”

If there’s one other thing Schneider wishes people could understand about that day, it’s that she really hopes to never find herself in the same situation again. Not outside of work, that is.

It would be wonderful if softball games could always just be softball games, and she could stay out of the spotlight.

But if not, she’ll be ready.

“Should the opportunity present, I would drop everything and do my best to help again and again and again. I chose this career and took an oath to help, and I am so fortunate to have been able to.”

The UMSL Experience

Jami Hirsch

Jami Hirsch