If you live in mid-Missouri and own a TV, you’ve likely seen Scott Schaefer’s work. But chances are, you had no idea he was involved in what you were watching. Why? Because he’s the man behind the video camera.
Scott, a graduate of the renowned University of Missouri School of Journalism and 15-time winner at the Mid-America Region Emmy® Awards of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science, lives in Columbia, MO, with his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Lillian. He currently works in the marketing department of Veterans United Home Loans as a videographer, and he and Shannon run a photography business.
But where you’ve likely seen his videography skills is on KOMU 8, NBC’s affiliate in Columbia, MO, where he worked for several years after graduating from Mizzou. Among other tasks, he worked alongside Sarah Hill on her popular “Sarah’s Stories” segments that aired once a week.
Scott grew up in Montgomery City, MO, and as a child he had a habit of picking up family members’ cameras at events and taking pictures—when he wasn’t hamming it up for the cameras himself. Through his school district’s gifted education program, he was encouraged to tap into his creativity, which he explored through various elective classes and extracurricular activities.
He was also interested in broadcasting from an early age. The sound of Jack Buck calling the play-by-play of St. Louis Cardinals baseball games inspired him and spurred him to broadcast some high school baseball games on the local radio station. In his high school technology class, he was given the opportunity to shoot and edit some video, though he didn’t particularly enjoy working with the tape-to-tape editing that was necessary in the pre-digital age.
With Jack Buck’s voice echoing in his head, Scott chose to attend Mizzou’s Journalism School and major in broadcast journalism. He soon discovered, however, that it was a far cry from play-by-play sports announcing. But he started college in the fall of 2001, and he clearly remembers the impact 9/11 had on his desire to continue in broadcasting. “I remember watching all the coverage on TV … and even though it was a horrible thing, I wished I was there to capture it to either help tell the stories or help share the historical event.”
As a student in the Journalism School, Scott had the privilege of learning and honing his craft at the only major network affiliate in the US that operates as a university-owned commercial TV station. Students are required to cover shifts at KOMU 8, where they experience real-life, hands-on learning. They travel around the viewing area reporting the news. Very early on, they create news packages, and one is chosen to air on KOMU. The broadcast segment is then graded during class.
While doing his student work at KOMU, Scott realized that the writing side of broadcast journalism wasn’t his strong suit. Instead, he enjoyed and excelled in the photography and videography aspects. So he chose to focus on videography via an independent study, which led to him shooting video for his classmates.
After graduation, Scott stayed on at KOMU, where he worked on the aforementioned Sarah’s Stories segments, which garnered multiple Emmy nominations and wins. One of those awards was for a segment about the Honor Flight Network.
In 2008, Sarah approached Scott with the idea of doing a story on an Honor Flight organization based in west central Missouri. The two would accompany a group of World War II veterans on a one-day trip to Washington, DC. This was a new concept to the pair, but they jumped at the chance to find out more about the organization.
Each Honor Flight hub does things a little differently, but this is typically how things go. Honor Flight groups head to the airport well before the crack of dawn to board a plane to the DC area, where veterans are greeted with a heroes’ welcome. They are then bussed to various locations around Washington, DC, including the war memorials, Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard, and various other landmarks. They arrive back home late that night, typically to more welcomes from friends and family.
When Scott and Sarah returned from their initial trip, they put together a series of stories that aired weekly on KOMU. In those stories, they put out the call for anyone who was interested in starting a mid-Missouri branch of the organization to contact them. A local man named Steve Paulsell got in touch, and from there, a group of seven people, including Scott and Sarah, decided to found the Central Missouri Honor Flight.
The group started fundraising via some on-air telethons at KOMU with the hope of funding one flight in 2009. They were able to fund seven. The group has now sponsored more than 50 flights for veterans.
On these flights, all of the veterans’ expenses, from flights to food, are provided free of charge. They are accompanied by medical personnel and guardians who are trained to help throughout all legs and aspects of the journey, including mobility assistance.
Top priority is given to World War II veterans, though spots are also available for Korean and Vietnam War veterans who are nearing the end of their lives.
Scott loves being able to give veterans this experience, and he says it often helps them in ways they didn’t expect. He says, “I’ve heard several veterans say they never talked about the war or told their family about it, but after this trip they are able to open up and feel good about what they did even if they hadn’t ever felt that way before.
“It makes you feel good to help them out and let them experience this stuff that a lot of people never thought they would ever be able to experience in their lives,” he says. “Some of the men haven’t flown since the war, let alone left their wife for a day.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Honor Flights, you’ll find more information at the end of this article. But don’t skip ahead, because you’ll want to know about the other great organizations that Scott is a part of.
After working full-time at KOMU for several years, Scott took a job with Veterans United Home Loans, while still working part-time at KOMU. Veterans United is a full-service lender that specializes in helping veterans and service members achieve the American dream of home ownership with their VA loan benefit.
As a videographer in the marketing department, Scott shoots videos that highlight the benefits veterans can receive through the company, and he helps tell stories of veterans who have benefited from Veterans United’s home loans. He also creates videos for the Veterans United Foundation, an employee-funded non-profit organization that to date has raised more than $40 million for veterans’ organizations, military families, and local communities since its inception in 2011.
One of the company’s values is to “enhance lives every day,” and that is the mission of the Veterans United Foundation. They give money to other organizations such as Blue Star Families, the USO, and TAPS. They provide scholarships for people in military families. And they help families in crisis that need financial assistance. Scott says, “It could be any sort of issue that somebody is struggling with, and we can help with that burden.”
If you’d like to watch some of the videos Scott has worked on to tell the stories of some of the people the Veterans United Foundation has helped, click here.
Mobility Worldwide and Virtual Reality
One of the charity projects that VU employees volunteer with is another organization that Scott first found out about while doing Sarah’s Stories. Now called Mobility Worldwide, it started as the PET Project. (PET stands for Personal Energy Transportation.) The PET cart is a three-wheeled, hand-cranked wheelchair cart that people with mobility issues can use to navigate rough terrain where wheelchairs can’t go.
Scott and Sarah accompanied the group, founded by World War II veteran Mel West, to Vietnam on a distribution trip in 2005. Since then, Scott has also gone on trips to Guatemala and Zambia.
The Zambia trip was especially memorable, as they were able to visit the only production site outside of the United States. In addition, they filmed a virtual reality story so people in other parts of the world can experience it as if they were actually there.
The virtual reality aspect is something that Sarah Hill has become passionate about. She has always been interested in cutting-edge technology, and virtual reality was no exception. She decided to use the technology to create an experience for veterans who were physically unable to travel on Honor Flights. The video was shot over the course of two trips to Washington, DC, and Honor Everywhere was born.
Through this process, Sarah started an organization called Story Up, which tells stories through virtual reality technology. Unsurprisingly, Scott has been involved in several of those efforts.
There’s no doubt that Scott lives well and serves others through both his job and volunteer efforts. “I always like telling stories and being able to help people,” he says. And if you would like to help people through some of the organizations Scott works with, we have provided some information below to get you started.
How You Can Get Involved
• Discover if your area has a regional hub by clicking here. If so, visit the website and/or contact the listed point person for the hub to find out more information. (Please note: If your area does not have a hub, veterans may still be able to do a solo flight and meet up with a group in DC. Click here to find out more.)
• If your area does not have a hub, consider starting one! If you would like more information about starting a new hub, click here to contact the national organization to find out how to do so.
• Are you (or do you know) a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War veteran who would like to visit Washington, DC, on an Honor Flight? Contact your regional hub. You will be able to fill out an application on many of the hub websites, including the Central Missouri Honor Flight site.
• Would you like to volunteer as a guardian? Honor Flight Guardians assist the veterans on every stage of the journey, from airport check-in to boarding assistance to being available for all mobility help needed along the way. Please note that guardians must go through training and are required to pay for their own trips. Prices vary depending on location. For a rough estimate, the Central Missouri Honor Flight Guardian fee is currently $300.
• The regional hubs also need volunteers for office management and clerical support duties. Visit your hub’s website to find out more.
• Would you like to donate to Honor Flight in order to ensure veterans can continue to visit the nation’s capital free of charge? You can donate to the national organization and/or to your local hub. Visit the websites to see how to give.
• If a veteran you know is physically unable to travel to Washington, DC, visit the Honor Everywhere website to find out more about the virtual reality experience.
• If you are a veteran or active service member, you may be eligible for a VA loan. Click here to find out more.
• If you know of a veteran, veteran’s family, active-service family, or military-related organization that can use some financial assistance, you can contact the Veterans United Foundation by clicking here.
• The Veterans United Foundation is funded by employee donations that are matched dollar for dollar by the company.
• Donate to Mobility Worldwide by clicking here. It costs $300 to produce and deliver one cart. But don’t worry; you don’t have to donate that much!
• Discover how you can help by clicking here. You might be able to donate parts or skills, find other volunteers, or promote the organization.
• To find out how to start an affiliate where carts can be assembled and shipped throughout the world, click here.
Each Wednesday I upload a post profiling someone who lives well and serves others in everyday and extraordinary ways. If you want a reminder, I will be sending an email update each week with information about new posts and resources.
Other Profiles and Topics
The purpose of this website is to inspire people to live well and serve others and then influence the children in their lives to do the same. These profile posts do just that, as well as other informational posts. You can also find resources that will help you influence kids to live well and serve others in our online store and on our companion novels page.