During the 1980s, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, alongside just about every other state college in the nation, experienced budget cuts due to a struggling economy that resulted in the forfeiture of certain programs. One department hit particularly hard was women’s athletics. According to the Gateway, “Track and baseball were eliminated in 1985 after the Legislature cut $366,500 from UNO’s athletic budget” (McAndrews 10). Baseball was salvaged by a donation from the College World Series Committee but track was dead in the water. This prompted the foundation of the UNO Women’s Walk (now the Claussen-Leahy Run/Walk) in 1986 by UNO women’s athletics director Connie Claussen. Sheila was one of eight team captains the very first year, her peers including Lou Ann Weber, Sharon Trussel, Cherri Mackenberg, and Mary Lou Fry (McAndrews 10). Together they managed to raise $12,000 with only eighty-four participants (Jahr 16). In subsequent years, that number grew into the thousands and the walk has since raised over $3 million for scholarships, travel expenses, and even helped pay for the women’s weight room in 1988 (“Women’s varsity” 10). After the first year, Sheila organized a team of walkers from Union Pacific, and partook in the Women’s Walk annually for twenty-five years. She has also been an active member of the UNO Women’s Club, occupying the presidential seat in 1993.
For some, retirement is a time of winding down. For Sheila, it has been the opposite. Prior to arriving in the United States, she had vacationed in Italy and Ireland but had done little traveling otherwise. Her nomadic desires came back in full force at the turn of the century and since then, she and Bob have set foot on all seven continents. They embark on new expeditions every year, eager to see as much of the world as possible, for if they stay in Nebraska too long, Sheila starts exhibiting symptoms of cabin fever. “I’m paranoid if the next trip’s not yet planned” (qtd. in Myers 4).
When not circumnavigating the globe, Sheila has been participating in various humanitarian projects around the city. For example, she has served on the guild board for Uta Halee Girls Village in Ponca Hills,