21-Year-Old Track Star's Family Speaks Out After Her Suicide as They Launch Foundation in Her Name

Sarah Shulze's family said she was "overwhelmed ... in a single, desperate moment" and that they were "shocked and grief stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was"

Wisconsin Track and Cross Country Star Sarah Shulze Dies at 21. https://www.sarahshulze.com/
Photo: sarahshulze.com

A student-athlete from the University of Wisconsin in Madison has died by suicide — a tragedy her family is sharing publicly while using her memory as inspiration to do good work in her name.

Sarah Shulze, a track and cross-country star, "took her own life" and died on April 13, her family confirmed in a statement earlier this month. Shulze was 21.

Her family has since launched a foundation to "support the causes most important to Sarah," they said in a statement on Friday.

"Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of every day life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment," Shulze's family said. "Like you, we are shocked and grief stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was."

Wisconsin Track and Cross Country Star Sarah Shulze Dies at 21 https://twitter.com/UWBadgers
Wisconsin Badgers

Shulze, a California native who graduated from Oak Park High in 2019, joined the cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track teams at her university after earning a scholarship following her accomplishments as a runner and being named Ventura County Athlete of the Year.

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, she also served as a member of the Student-Athlete Council and scored academic All-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021 for cross country and in 2021 for track.

Her family said she had started to develop a passion for politics, social causes and women's rights after interning at the Wisconsin state legislature and volunteering as a poll worker during the last presidential election.

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"Above all other things, Sarah was a power for good in the world. Her deep compassion was evident in her devotion to her sisters Abbey and Ella, the love her parents felt from her every single day, and the extra care she took in moments shared with her grandparents and cousins," her family said.

The Sarah Shulze Foundation will focus on providing promotion and support to women's rights, student-athletes and mental health, according to its website.

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On Friday, the University of Wisconsin issued a statement that they were also "heartbroken" by Shulze's death.

"Sarah was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, teammate and Badger student-athlete," the school said. "We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Sarah's family, friends and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time."

Funeral services were scheduled at both the University of Wisconsin in Madison and in Shulze's native California.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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