Remarkable Women: Shannon Knebusch

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Shannon Knebusch has survived in the face of unimaginable grief. She told us how her daughter, Madison, inspires her to live every day fearlessly.

Mother of five, Knebusch’s schedule has been full for the past almost 25 years.

A few years ago, she decided it was time to head back to school, putting her fear aside and working toward her dream career.

“You know, when I had Madison, I really loved the nurse that took care of me. And she was so amazing and so nurturing. And I thought, you know, I really think I want to do that one day, but I really just got busy having kids, and then Madison got sick. And we really lived in the hospital, you know, on and off for two years. And I really built relationships with a lot of those nurses, and they were so loving and caring to Madison, and loving and caring for our family too. And we built relationships with them. And I thought, you know, I really want to do that,” said Shannon Knebusch.

Madison died after battling a rare form of cancer in January 2012 and Shannon is making sure Madison’s legacy of fearlessness continues in her own life.

“She really taught me a lot about life. She was resilient. She was a fighter. She had lots of faith to what’s kind, loving. She’s just everybody, every, everything that I aspire to be, I think about when I think of her, that’s who I want to be. She was just really one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. And really, her life kind of jolted me into really thinking about the fact that, you know, life is a gift, and she really fought so hard to live. And that’s what kind of pushed me to kind of take on this fearless life attitude that I have, you know, doing things that I probably wouldn’t have normally done and living the life that she can’t,” said Shannon Knebusch.

Shannon and her husband, Levi, started a foundation in Madison’s honor.

The Madison Taylor Knebush Foundation, MTK, gives money to families with kids who are fighting cancer. They can use it for bills, travel; whatever they need. They also give money to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for Pediatric Cancer Research. To date, they’ve given away more than $100,000.

“I could have said, Hey, you know, I lost a child, I’m going to lay in bed and cry for two years. But I didn’t do that, because I just had these four little kids that were kind of looking at us, like, what are we going to do next? Like, what’s the plan? And you just had to kind of keep going. And that’s what we did. I mean, we just kept them busy and kept them involved. And, you know, we talk about Madison all the time. And I think that’s key to is, you know, it’s an open topic in our house. And it’s just healthy for us to do that. And I think my kids are good, but I think they’re good because Levi and I are good,” said Shannon Knebusch.

The kids are good and against the odds, Shannon and Levi are stronger than ever.

“I know it does kind of feel that way, you know when Madison died, and I got through that I thought I can do anything. Because the worst thing has already happened to me. I can, I can be fearless. I can do it all. I can do whatever I want to do. Because it’s already the worst has already happened. losing a child is the worst and I survived it. My kids survived it. My husband survived it, and I feel like we’re all stronger,” said Shannon Knebusch.

Shannon’s strength is one of the things that led Levi to nominate her as a remarkable woman.

Shannon’s nomination letter:

As a mother of five children, Shannon Knebusch has given tirelessly of herself and has even gone further in the face of unimaginable tragedy. As a young mother, Shannon willingly gave up her ambition for school to give her full attention to the raising of her kids. Madison was born when Shannon was 20 and from that time till now, she had dedicated herself to raising her kids while putting a hold on her own dreams and ambitions.

Fast-forward to 2012: Madison Knebusch, 16, passed away after a two-year battle with an extremely rare form of cancer. Shannon spent days and months tirelessly tending to Madison’s needs and even living with her in Dallas, away from her other four kids, for four months while Madison received care. Not once did Shannon lose faith or tire in her responsibilities to her sick child. If she did, no one ever knew it because she took it on with 100-percent dedication and grace.

After Madison’s passing, Shannon began working with me on forming the MTK Foundation, a nonprofit that caters to pediatric cancer patients and their families. She has dedicated countless hours of her time and energy, helping to support fundraising events, visiting children in hospitals, and helping to run the day to day operations of the foundation, while not forsaking her own children and being the best mother she can be.

Shannon’s oldest son Britton, 14, narrowly escaped death after a 163-foot free fall into Palo Duro Canyon. While in the hospital and immobile for almost a month, she stayed steadfast, never complained or missed an event with one of her other kids, and still had time to help nurse him back to health.

After her youngest child entered elementary school, Shannon decided to begin following her dream of nursing. Because of her experience with Madison and Britton, Shannon developed a great passion for the care of others and is now only 5 months from completion.

Shannon has maintained a higher than 3.7 GPA while being active in all her children’s activities which include middle school soccer, club soccer, basketball, Kids Inc. flag football, varsity football at Tascosa High School, four years of high school cheerleading, WT cheerleading, and volleyball, and rarely missed a single game.

Shannon is active in church and has taken three trips to Africa, helping to build and maintain an orphanage in Kenya. She visits the cancer ward at the local hospital in Kenya and loves on the kids there, knowing only too well the level of pain and suffering they have to endure.

She has been active in local PTAs as vice president and treasurer, cheerleading sponsor, and other volunteer events in which her children are involved. Shannon has been faithfully married to me for 25 years and that alone should qualify her for something, but it is her unfailing dedication to her kids and family, while staring down unbelievable grief, tragedy, loss, love, and accomplishment that makes her remarkable.

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