Though she may no longer be with us, Pleasant Valley goalkeeper Schyler Herman is still kicking butt and taking names both on and off the soccer field.


On Feb. 15, Schyler’s father, Mike Herman, announced that the SchylerStrong Foundation was able to donate $5,000 to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in honor of the beloved goalie who passed away from an aggressive form of leukemia in October 2018.


The funds were accrued through online donations on Giving Tuesday via Facebook and the SchylerStrong website, along with a sizable contribution from the SchylerStrong Foundation.


The funny thing is, some of those funds came through due to a small but impactful mistake.


Last week, when the money from Giving Tuesday finally came through, Herman put a post on the SchylerStrong Facebook page noting the funds, but he forgot to uncheck a box on the post that asked whether it was a fundraiser in and of itself.


"It started the fundraiser, and I didn’t even realize it," Herman said. "I went back an hour later to check my spelling, because my wife always catches one spelling error and then makes fun of me constantly for hours. So, I went to double check, and we already had $210."


Knowing that the funds would be returned if they shut down the fundraiser, Herman opted to keep it going, amassing another few hundred dollars.


The contribution was specifically earmarked for the research team of Dr. Sarah Tasian, Schyler’s oncologist and a noted researcher in the field of childhood leukemia.


"She was happy with that, she was thrilled because they don’t get a lot of donors specific to her research lab," Herman said.


And while that $5,000 was incredibly helpful, it was only a small part of the contributions that SchylerStrong and the Hermans have provided to Tasian and her team.


In September, the group gave $10,000 to Tasian’s team, with $4,000 coming from Facebook contributions, and two $1,000 donations from The Olsen Christmas Wish, a charitable program created by Stroud Area Regional Police Officer Chris Shelly, and Maren’s Fierce Fighters, a 501c3 group that supports research for childhood leukemia.


"It was a little over $6,000, and then my wife and I donated the rest of the money to make it $10,000 for that check," Herman said.


But more importantly, it was another contribution – this one from Schyler herself – that could actually change the world of pediatric cancer treatments and save countless lives.


During Schyler’s stay at CHOP, a chance encounter led to her mother, Sherrie Herman, meeting Tasian, who normally works as a researcher and as an assistant professor of pediatrics. Under Dr. Tasian’s care, Schyler showed significant signs of improvement, getting to a point where she was even able to walk and exercise unaided.


Despite the positive results, the leukemia spread throughout Schyler’s body. She suffered a brain bleed on Oct. 29, and without enough platelets to combat it, she passed away on Oct. 31.


Mike Herman said that is precisely why he makes it a priority to donate blood platelets every two weeks, along with blood and plasma when he can, in order to keep supplies up for those in need, and that anyone who is able to do so should consider donating as well.


But during Schyler’s course of treatment, she and her parents decided to provide anything they could to help in the fight against leukemia, right down to her own blood.


"We had given permission for (Tasian) to keep every sample, every extra everything that they took from Schyler: extra bone marrow, extra spinal fluid, extra blood samples, any tissue for any other reason," Herman said. "All the leftovers went to Dr. Tasian’s lab so that they could use it for experiments, because Schyler’s leukemia was one of the worst that ever went through CHOP."


Tasian, who also runs the leukemia bio-bank at CHOP, said that Schyler’s samples from both her acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) proved to be invaluable to her team’s research.


"We were able to take both types of her leukemia and grow them in mice that lack an immune system, and that’s been a very helpful patient-derived xenographt model system that helps to assess new therapies," Tasian said.


Tasian said that Schyler’s ALL and AML samples feature a gene known as FLT3 that is related to the onset of both the affliction Schyler originally was diagnosed with, ALL, and what it morphed into, AML.


"We’ve been able to develop a new immunotherapy against FLT3 in tests specifically with her mouse models, and we found that we could cure both the ALL and the AML with this new immunotherapy," Tasian said. "When we got the first results back from her ALL models we were just amazed because we could cure those leukemias. And then, when we got the results back from her AML models, it was even more amazing that we could cure those as well."


The Hermans found out about the success of the mouse trials several months ago, and just this Saturday they were informed that human testing is on the way.


"That’s huge," Mike Herman said. "For one of the worst strains of leukemia that they ever saw, she has what is hopefully the cure for it."


According to Tasian, human trials could be underway in about a year, pending clearances for a clinical trial protocol from the Food and Drug Administration. Tasian said that adult trials would be conducted first for safety, but if they prove to be successful, pediatric trials could be right around the corner.


Tasian said that without Schyler’s contributions, her research team – and many others – would never be able to make the incredible breakthroughs that they have made in the fight against leukemia.


"Without the ability to actually study primary patient materials, I don’t think we’d be as far along as we are," Tasian said. "It’s a priceless gift for us."


Mike and Sherrie Herman, meanwhile, are looking forward to a future where no parent will ever have to experience the loss of a child to leukemia, thanks to their daughter.


It’s all in keeping with Schyler’s core beliefs: you never give up, and never lose.


"If this works, after the tweaking, this will be a major impact in pediatric leukemia. I told (Dr. Tasian) she had better name it after Schyler," Mike Herman said with a laugh.