WATE Six On Your Side
Veteran's Day 2017

Veteran's Day March for Ervin Schoolfield
Halls High School robotics team marches for veteran mentor facing cancer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Veterans, family members, neighbors and friends crowded along a flag-draped Gay Street Friday morning for the Knoxville Veterans Day Parade. Among the crowd were hundreds of stories. One from Halls is more bittersweet than the rest.

The Halls High School robotics team, Red Nation Robotics, walked to honor their mentor, Ervin Schoolfield. The Air Force veteran's time in the service included flying a number of drones. His team recently learned he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer and so the parade was their way to honor him.

Because Schoolfield was feeling too sick on Friday to attend the parade, pictures were sent to him so that he could watch.

"He's someone I look up to," said senior Christian Latham. 

Red Nation Robotics marched from the Coliseum down Gay Street without their mentor.

"The kids are experiencing what all of us do in life, which is we have loss, that we serve and we help," said mom Naomi Lohmann.

"I feel honored that he's spending his last moments with us. It makes us proud," said senior Robert Lohmann.

The team created a sign as another way to honor Schoolfield.

"We're trying to do this to honor him. We just want to show him that we care about him and support him through what he's going through," said Robert Lohmann.

"He's extremely kind. Basically what a father-figure should be," said Latham.

Schoolfield served in the Air Force in seven combat tours from 1995 to 2002.

"I'm going to be thinking about him and every veteran. They're the backbone of this country," said Latham.

The team's robot led the charge during the parade.

"Just the fact that he feels as bad as he does, but he comes in and spends hours with the kids, he's always smiling regardless of what he's going through," said Naomi Lohmann.

"He really gives us help on building robots especially in the wiring part because none of us are electricians. So we've always got questions and we're uncertain," said Latham.

While the future is uncertain, the team is thankful they have the opportunity to show Schoolfield he's so much more.

"We want to wrap our arms around him and be his family," said Naomi Lohmann.

"I just want to thank him for everything he's done for us, for this country, for all of us," added Latham.

We spoke to Mr. Schoolfield over the phone Friday afternoon, he says it's been an honor helping these students the last year.

We're told the Red Nation Robotics team is heading into one of their 'big build' seasons so they're looking for people in the engineering industry who can coach. If you'd like to sponsor, donate, or mentor the team you can click here and visit their website.

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

WVLT TV Local 8 News

Dying Knoxville dad uses life's last stop to teach

By Amanda Ferguson | 

Posted: Tue 6:05 PM, Dec 19, 2017  | 

Updated: Thu 1:56 PM, Dec 21, 2017


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ervin Schoolfield holds many titles: mentor, father and veteran name only a few. But last December, Schoolfield found out that the next year may be his last to serve in those roles.

"I'm on a train with one stop left, and I know that," he said. "I can complain to the conductor, or I could look out the window and enjoy the ride."

Cancer is overtaking Schoolfield's body. With months to live, Schoolfield spends his time with his two loves, his children and robotics.

"For me, it's a matter of spending more time with my kids and two, having a purpose," Schoolfield said. "When you have a terminal disease, you realize you lack a little bit of purpose and a reason to wake up every morning."

So Schoolfield combined his purpose with his goal and began mentoring his kids, along with other students, at Halls High School.

"He's really offered a whole lot of knowledge and help in areas that we're kind of weak in and don't really know about," said Blaine Snyder, a senior in the robotics program.

Schoolfield turned his weakness into strength, in and out of the classroom.

"I lost my parents last year and that was a really tough time for me, so to be able to help someone who is going through a similar rough time, like Ervin, is really gratifying," Snyder said.

After seeing their mentor in need, Schoolfield's team was looking for ways to help. So they began providing meals to his family, and they worked to create a scholarship in his memory.

"When you see someone in need that has given so much to you and sacrificed so much to you, to me it seems like human nature to repay that, but at the same time we're like a big family here," said Morgan Everett, the lead mentor for the Halls High School robotics team.

Schoolfield's legacy will give a student a chance to pay for college who might not go otherwise.

"That's humbling," Schoolfield said. "That hits you hard."

Schoolfield's cancer is too far gone, so doctors took him off his regularly scheduled chemotherapy treatments.

"My tumor has doubled since July in my liver, that's likely the one that'll get me," Schoolfield said. "We have time. I can tell my kids I love them. Here at least I have a chance to let them know I love them, help them to prepare for the future. I know it won't be easy, but I feel like I have a part in my life and death."

If you would like to donate to create Schoolfield's legacy scholarship, visit the Halls Robotics Team website.

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

KnoxTNToday.com / HALLS

Fundraising continues for Halls Robotics dad

December 21, 2017 Shannon  Carey Halls

Parent and cancer patient Ervin Schoolfield helps son and Red Nation Robotics team member Adam Schoolfield work on the team's robot. The team is seeking funding for a scholarship to honor Ervin's contribution to the team. Photo by S. Carey

Almost a month ago, we wrote about efforts to help a local father and veteran who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Fundraising continues to create a scholarship in Ervin Schoolfield’s name and to provide evening meals for his two children. Fellow parent/mentors of the Red Nation Robotics team are spearheading the effort, but help is still needed.

Parent/mentor Naomi Lohmann said the scholarship has about $470 of a needed $3,000 so far, but the group is not giving up hope of funding a scholarship during Schoolfield’s lifetime. The story was also featured on local television, but information on how to donate was not given, she said.

For more information about Ervin Schoolfield, visit the Red Nation Robotics webpage. To volunteer to provide a meal, use this link. To donate to the scholarship fund, visit this GoFundMe site.

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

WVLT Channel 8 Interview March 29th 2018

Dying robotics coach raising money to take team to World Championships

On March 29, Local 8 News caught back up with Schoolfield, whose robotics team was preparing to attend the 2018 World Championships for robotics in Houston, Texas. The competition was set to take place April 17 through 21, 2018.

However, the students need $20,000 before the entire team can attend the event. If you would like to donate to help the team attend the championships, click here.

"Knowing the kids do 100 percent of the work, that's inspiring to me," he said in March. "You're competing with people who do that for a job, and you're doing it at a level that take you to World's, you're doing it better than everyone else.

"[It's] the biggest deal, it's their Super Bowl, it's the thing that they strive for, it's the thing they want more than anything."

If you would like to donate to create Schoolfield's legacy scholarship 

visit this GoFundMe site.


press to zoom
Ervin Demo.JPG
Ervin Demo.JPG

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

WVLT Channel 8  Red Nation going to WORLDS

Fun live interview of Team #4576

April 11, 2018

Just a week before we leave for World Championships in Houston, TX we were asked to do a live interview at th WVLT Studio in Knoxville