Terri Schindler-Schiavo turns 40 Wednesday, and plans are in the works for a
celebration to honor the brain-disabled woman who suffered six days of
court-ordered starvation last month when the feeding tube that sustains her
was removed at the behest of her husband, Michael Schiavo. Her life was
saved only when Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the state Legislature stepped in
and ordered the feeding tube restored.
”We’re making plans,” said Pamela Hennessey, spokesperson for Terri’s
parents, Robert and Mary Schindler. ”It’ll happen – that is, if Terri lives
till Wednesday without something happening to her first. But people should
realize she’s still in danger. A judge could simply order her feeding tube
removed and the whole thing would start over.”
Besides a party, people from around the country are finding ways to mark the
occasion and let Terri know they’re on her side – usually with e-mails and
Birthday cards are among the few things Terri is allowed to see in her room
at the Hospice of the Florida Sun Coast, in Pinellas Park, where she has
been for over three years. Although Schiavo will not permit flowers in her
room, her parents and siblings are permitted to take her cards and small
”When people learned her birthday was coming up, they just started sending
notes and cards and e-mails,” Hennessey told WorldNetDaily. These have been
arriving daily at the headquarters of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
in St. Petersburg.
Hennessey reports over 500 e-mails have come to the family’s website, with more arriving
every day – prayers, words of encouragement, poems and even a couple of
jokes. They were submitted with the promise that Terri’s family would read
each one to her.
Students at the Margaret K. Lewis School for Exceptional Children in Panama
City, Fla., reached out to Terri by making made dozens of birthday cards for
her. Many show the outline of a hand with the thumb, index finger and
”pinky” extended – that’s how to say ”I love you” in American Sign
Joshua Farver and his teacher Susan Perry display the card they
made to be sent to Terri Schindler-Schiavo (Photo: WMBB-TV, Panama City, Fla.
Some of the children needed help from assistants to draw their cards and
write their names and ”Happy Birthday,” but they understand very well about
Terri and her plight. Many of them are fed by tube the same way she is.
”So many of these children are children with feeding tubes,” said Susan
Perry, a teacher at the school, when interviewed by WMBB News 13, the ABC TV
channel in Panama City. ”They are human beings just like Terri. They want
her to understand they know what she’s going through, and if their feeding
tubes were taken away from them they would go hungry. They just want to wish
her a very happy birthday,” said Perry.
Adult clients at St. Andrew Bay Center in Lynn Haven, near Panama City, also
made birthday cards for Terri, and these were added to those made by the
youngsters at MKL School. The center is a private, nonprofit agency that
teaches practical skills to developmentally retarded people so they can live
independently. Over 100 cards were collected from the school and the center
and hand-delivered Saturday to the Schindlers who shared them with Terri.
A world of faces
Hennessey said a local activist, Cheryl Ford, has come up with the idea of
creating a collage of faces, ”absolutely one of the sweetest ideas I’ve ever
In an e-mail Ford asks those who can’t be at the celebration on Dec. 3, to
e-mail a picture of ”yourself with your family, your family pet – whatever”
She will print these out and assemble them into a collage with the heading:
”To our Terri, From the World of Faces who Love you!” and present it to
Terri’s parents on their daughter’s birthday.
”I know, I know!” Ford wrote. ”This is a hurried last minute request, and I
do apologize. I just thought about this idea when I was counting sheep last
She said the photos must be scanned and sent no later than Sunday as she’ll
need time to make the collage.
”Remember to smile pretty,” she said.
From the Schindlers
WorldNetDaily has reported the Schindlers have fought their son-in-law,
Michael Schiavo, in the state court system for six years over his
determination to starve his wife to death and his claim that it’s what Terri
would have wanted. The courts have consistently ruled that because he is her
legal guardian, as well as her husband, he has the right to order removal of
his wife’s feeding tube. Terri left no written directive, but Schiavo swears
she told him in casual conversations that she would never want to be kept
alive by ”artificial means.”
The Schindlers do not believe their daughter made such end-of-life
statements and dispute a judge’s ruling that she is in a ”persistent
vegetative state” from which she will never recover. They say Terri responds
to them and could be rehabilitated if given the therapy that Schiavo has
refused to provide.
Robert and Mary Schindler would like everyone who cares about Terri to join
them in wishing her a happy birthday. Here are some suggestions of small
gifts and other items from a list posted on the website.
- You can send a card or a note to us at the foundation. We will deliver
them all to Terri.
- If you’ve placed a light in your window for Terri, please send us a
- Terri adores animals. If you have a picture of your favorite pet, feel
free to send it along. (It’s been years since she’s seen a cat or dog,
though there is a ”Pets-for-Patients” program at the Hospice.)
- Terri enjoys music. Piano music, John Denver, Journey and Wham! are some
of her favorites. Since she has a CD player in her room, a CD would make a
great birthday gift.
- Terri enjoys lotions and nice-smelling things for her skin.
- If you’d like to send a personal message, tape record your own message
and we’ll play it for her.
- So many people have already sent a prayer to Terri on our Share a Prayer
page. We read these to her as often as we can. Be sure to include yours.
- Michael Schiavo does not allow her to receive physical therapy, but
”stress balls” are great for relieving the contractures in her hands.
Cards and gifts should be sent to the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation,
4615 Gulf Blvd., 103-104, St. Petersburg, Fla., 33706.
Mary Schindler says she is overwhelmed and grateful for the ongoing effort
to save her daughter.
”It helps to know that there are so many people who recognize that Terri is
merely a disabled woman who deserves to be given a chance,” she says. ”We
want desperately to continue to care for her and to get her the therapy that
Information, including court filings, are posted on the Schindler family website.