by Steven Ertelt
August 8, 2005
Doral, FL (LifeNews.com) — Though his objective as her legal guardian was to end Terri Schiavo’s life, Terri’s estranged husband Michael received an award from a Florida guardianship group for his decision-making as the person charged with determining the disabled woman’s fate.
Michael was given the Guardian of the Year Award by the Florida State Guardianship Association yesterday, just over four months after he won a years-long court battle to have Terri’s feeding tube removed. Terri died on March 31 after nearly two weeks of a painful starvation and dehydration death.
"I’m not much of a speechmaker," Michael said as he accepted the award. "I don’t talk much. But on behalf of my wife Theresa, I thank you."
Brother Paul O’Donnell, a Franciscan monk who sometimes serves as the spokesman for Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, called the award "offensive."
"Oh, my God, that’s offensive," O’Donnell said. "Michael Schiavo … basically let her rot."
The guardianship group acknowledged Michael was a controversial choice, but they honored him for supposedly keeping Terri’s wishes.
"We see a lot of situations where family steps away," Michelle Kenney, president-elect of the group, told the Associated Press. "He stuck by. He didn’t walk away."
However, a good friend of Terri’s vividly remembers watching a television program with Terri about a woman who was in a coma for years. Terri was upset when she told a joke about the woman and said there was no way doctors or lawyers could know the woman’s wishes.
"Where there is life, there is hope," Terri told her friend.
Aside from his decisions that led to Terri’s death, Michael repeatedly failed to follow basic instrutions given to guardians.
Michael violated both state law and court orders in failing on several occasions to file an annual guardianship and medical care plan for Terri. he also refused, during the 12 years he was Terri’s guardian, to take the mandatory guardianship training course offered by the state of Florida. That, too, is required by state law
He also cut off any extensive medical care or rehabilitative treatment in 1992, years before Terri’s ultimate death.
Pat Anderson, a former attorney for the Schindler family, wrote a letter to the organization saying she found the award "insulting to the thousands of honest, hard-working guardians who follow Florida law in act and spirit."
"There is much more to being a guardian than insisting on the ward’s death," she wrote.
According to the Florida State Guardianship Association web site, the recipient of the annual award came from a list of people nominated by local chapters. Chapters were instructed by the state group to find nominees who represented their wards "with service that improves the wards’ quality of life."
ACTION: Send your thoughts on Michael’s award to Florida State Guardianship Association, PO Box 13978, Tallahassee, FL, 32317 or call (850) 656-8848 or fax (850) 656-3038. You can send an email note to the group by filling out the form at https://www.floridaguardians.com/component/option,com_contact/Itemid,3/