Terri Schiavo’s Death Brought Schindler Family Together to Help Disabled

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 29, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Death Brought Schindler Family Together to Help Disabled Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 29, 2006

St. Petersburg, FL (LifeNews.com) — During the final months and weeks of the intense legal battle they fought with Terri Schiavo’s former husband to save her life, the Schindler family kept saying the ordeal was bringing them closer together than ever before.

Now that a year has passed and their foundation has converted from an effort to prevent Terri’s euthanasia death to one protecting the disabled, they’re working together on a daily basis.

The Schindler family — parents Bob and Mary Schindler, brother Bobby and sister Suzanne Viatadamo — now all work for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.

Bobby gave up his job as a science and math teacher at Tampa Catholic High School and Suzanne quit her position as a stockbroker.

"Unanimously, the first thing that came out of all of our mouths, was "We can never let this happen again, what happened to Terri, the way she was starved to death,’ " Bob Schindler told the St. Petersburg Times.

The goal is to fight what he called a "euthanasia movement" where some favor killing disabled patients rather than providing them long-term care.

They now work out of a small three-room office in St. Petersburg, Florida filled with photographs of Terri in pictures and drawings.

A Tampa Tribune news story reveals their office contains numerous Catholic artifacts and photos of the Schindler family’s meeting with Pope Benedict XVI just after Terri’s death. A map of the United States adorns one wall and push pins show the location of places where one or more of the family have spoken at various events.

The foundation relies on donations and will get a financial shot in the arm with proceeds from the Schindlers’ new book "A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo – A Lesson for Us All," that talks about their fight to save Terri’s life.

The foundation’s goal "is to help others avoid future tragedies that reflect what Terri endured."

It has a two part mission — to educate people about guardianship laws and statutes on starvation and dehydration and to establish a network of professionals and organizations to help disabled people and their families.

Eventually the Schindler family hopes to establish a network of Terri Schindler Schiavo centers to provide care for brain injury victims and support for their families.

The Schindlers have also started a separate organizations to change laws to protect patients from being denied lifesaving medical treatment. So far, only Louisiana has adopted a new law, which prevents a spouse living with another person from denying such treatment.

"It’s going to take a little while before these laws are actually changed," Bobby Schindler told the Tribune.