Reported By: Jordan Vandenberge
It's been eight months since the passing of beloved Evansville Police Detective Nathan Schroer but the legacy of this one man continues to thrive. Two weeks before Schroer's passing in November 2013, a stem cell donor drive was held in his honor. While it ultimately couldn't help him, the drive has helped someone else.
The sounds of a snare and cymbals are the soul of a song and the reason behind rhythm. For Jon Pounders, being behind the drum set is part of a past life, much like a shadow on the wall.
"This was before Nathan Schroer was a Christian," Pounders said. "It was a Nathan that nobody has seen. He had long dreadlocks and his nose was pierced."
Pounders had his band and Schroer had his too. On some nights, amongst a crowd of fanatic fans, they'd share the same stage.
"We'd play shows when they played shows. Me and Nathan knew each other during all that," Pounders said. "We didn't hang out a lot especially after he became a police officer. At the time, police officers scared me but I knew Nathan was a good dude."
Long after the music stopped and the lights were turned off, their lives took different turns. Schroer quickly rose through the ranks at the Evansville Police Department, becoming a detective working at the Special Victims Unit. However, above all else, Schroer became a father and a steadfast Christian; he lived his life for a much greater purpose than himself.
On the other hand, Pounders continued to make music; he lived his life according to his own rhythm. Drug abuse, prescription pills and other crimes sent Pounders to the deepest and darkest places, Pounders said.
"I just remember thinking if God is real, He'll save me. I want Him to save me. I want you God," Pounders said. "I remember praying those words. Within a few minutes, I hear this banging on the cell door and the words 'Jon Pounders, we want you to come back here.'"
Pounders was sprawled across the holding cell floor, reeling from withdrawals. On that night six years ago, after the pounding on the jail cell door, he made the trip to an interview room.
"I'm looking down and I hear this voice, 'Jon, what's going on?' I look up and it's Nathan sitting there. I said, 'I haven't seen you in years,'" Pounders said as he fought back tears. "Nathan said, 'I was at my house and I heard your name come across the scanner about this case. I had to come in here and talk to you. I'm not going to question you or anything. I'm just going to pray with you.' At that point, I broke down in tears because I knew God had answered my prayer."
The two became inseparable. When Pounders became a Christian, there was Schroer at his baptism. When Schroer and his partner Det. Brian Turpin started a Christian hip-hop record label, there was Pounders offering to help.
It should come as no surprise when Schroer was fighting leukemia for the third time, Pounders was at the stem cell donor drive held in Schroer's honor.
"Nathan was selfless. He was just one of the most selfless people I've ever met and I think anyone has ever met," said Kris Holzmeyer. Holzmeyer helped Schroer organize the stem cell donor drive back in November. "Nathan even said, 'if it can't help me, maybe it will help someone else. And it has."
"It said I was a match," Pounders said as he referenced a letter he received in the mail a couple weeks ago. "I remember when I read it, I said that's intense. It said less than one percent of people are matches for other people."
Before, during and after the donor drive, Schroer said it was never about him. Schroer spent his days more concerned with serving others before himself, praying for others over himself and thinking of others over himself.
"I think [Schroer] probably impacted more people through his death than his life," Pounders said. "It just continues to show that snowball effect of the people that he's touched."
Unfortunately, the donor drive wouldn't be able to help Schroer. However, it's because of that donor drive that Pounder's matching stem cells might be able to help someone, somewhere.
"There's so many people that say, that was a cruel joke that the rug was pulled out from under him. And it would have been better if he hadn't been healed for that time at all," said Det. Brian Turpin, one of Schroer's best friends. "We don't know the Master Plan. All I know is that it's perfect. We're getting one of those rare opportunities to actually see a piece of that puzzle."
Ever since Schroer's passing, Det. Turpin has held his Bible a little closer. Index cards, sermon guides and a potpourri of papers are wedged in between the pages. Ever since Pounders was deemed a match, Det. Turpin's has had his Bible opened to Romans 8:28.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to His purpose," Det. Turpin recited.
While a date and time still need to be worked out, another donor drive will be held in the near future, Det. Turpin said. The donor registry is predicated on participation. If more people are in the registry, the greater the chances are for a possible match, Det. Turpin said.
More information on donor requirements can be found by visiting www.deletebloodcancer.org