In a personal telephone conversation yesterday with Terri Schiavo’s father, Bob Schindler, actor-director Mel Gibson encouraged the Schindler family to “never give up and continue to pray.”

Mel Gibson

Shortly after the telephone conversation Gibson sent a fax to the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation with the following statement to be read at today’s rally in Pinellas Park, Fla.: “I fully support the efforts of Mr. & Mrs. Schindler to save their daughter, Terri Schiavo, from a cruel starvation. Terri’s husband should sign the care of his wife over to her parents so she can be properly cared for.”

“We are very grateful that Mr. Gibson has come forward and issued such an encouraging statement on such a delicate matter,” said Schindler. “He was extremely supportive in our telephone conversation. Mr. Gibson told me he believes there is hope for Terri and that he knows of people in similar circumstances that have improved. He said we should never give up and continue to pray.”

Also, yesterday, Michael Schiavo rejected an offer of $1 million to give up guardianship of his brain-damaged wife – an attempt by a California businessman to save her from court-ordered starvation set to begin next Friday.

George Felos, attorney for the estranged husband, called the offer “offensive,” and said other offers, including one for $10 million, already had been made and rejected.

Those caring for Terri Schiavo are scheduled to remove her feeding tube March 18 – for the third time in the last few years – unless a court-approved alternative is found. Michael Schiavo won a court order in 2000 to have her feeding tube removed, claiming she had said she wouldn’t want to live in such a condition. Parents Robert and Mary Schindler, however, insist she has demonstrated a strong will to live, and they have filed a flurry of motions to prevent the tube’s removal – to no avail.

Terri Schiavo collapsed under disputed circumstances in 1990, suffering severe brain damage when her heart stopped momentarily. Michael Schiavo attributes the collapse to an eating disorder, but the Schindlers suspect he tried to strangle their daughter and contend that while mentally handicapped, she recognizes people and responds to stimuli.

Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.

Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.

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