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NRL News
Page 5
February/March 2010
Volume 37
Issue 2-3

Country Music Stars Honor the Life of Terri Schindler Schiavo

By Joleigh Little, Director, Wisconsin Teens for Life and Regional Coordinator, Wisconsin RTL

As the fifth anniversary of Terri Schindler Schiavo’s tragic death approaches, the Schindler family is pleased to announce a new and exciting event to celebrate her life and the lives of people everywhere with disabilities.

On April 11, 2010, country music legend Randy Travis and award-winning country artist Collin Raye will headline a fundraising concert to benefit the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. The event will be held at the Murat Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, the heart of the Midwest and a bastion of support for pro-life causes.

The concept for this concert was born of the Schindler family’s desire to honor the life of their daughter and sister, as well as raise awareness regarding the danger of euthanasia. They seek to protect other people like Terri from the horrible fate she suffered.

As right-to-life advocates know, Terri Schiavo was the severely brain-injured but otherwise perfectly healthy young woman who was starved and dehydrated to death in March 2005 at the insistence of her estranged husband, Michael Schiavo. Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, brother Bobby Schindler, and sister Suzanne Vitadamo fought valiantly for the right to take Terri home and love and care for her for the duration of her life.

They ultimately lost the battle to save Terri, but the family continues to fight for the lives of others like her through Terri’s Foundation.

Terri’s case has brought the issue of discrimination against people with disabilities to the forefront,” said Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri’s sister. “People’s hearts need to change in order for our culture to change. It’s similar to the abortion issue. We need to value life at every stage. Just because someone is ‘imperfect’ or has a disability doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of our care, respect, and love.”

Vitadamo said the Schindler family couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming concert. Suzanne shared how it came to be.

Randy Travis was very outspokenly supportive of Terri’s life during her ordeal,” Vitadamo told NRL News. “We know what a wonderful pro-family advocate he is and we thought we would reach out to him because we couldn’t think of anyone we would rather have headline the inaugural Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Concert.”

Suzanne added, “We have a friend who has experience in putting on concerts for causes and felt this would be a special way to honor Terri and others like her.”

The addition of Collin Raye to the evening’s lineup was especially poignant for the family. “We were aware of Collin Raye’s own personal struggle to care for his granddaughter, Haley, who has an undiagnosed, degenerative neurological disorder,” Vitadamo explained. “We feel a very close connection to him because it’s his passion to help her, just as it was our passion to help Terri.”

Anyone who has heard Raye’s song “She’s with Me” understands the artist’s heart for people with disabilities—those whom society might otherwise write off as “unworthy of life”—the very people for whom Terri’s Foundation fights day in and day out.

Together, Travis and Raye will provide an evening that will long be remembered by all who attend.

Proceeds raised through ticket sales and sponsorships for this event will allow Terri’s Foundation to honor her legacy in many ways. Most importantly, it will allow the foundation to continue protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by serving as a resource for families whose loved ones are in jeopardy of having their lives cut short.

Vitadamo encouraged all supporters of the foundation who live within driving distance to make the trip to join them for the exciting evening, beginning with those in the Indianapolis area. “The success of this event hinges on our pro-family friends who will come, bring their friends and family and make a party out of it,” she said. “We’re all going to have a great time and we want you to be a part of it. We promise a fun-filled and memorable evening, and it’s for a great cause!”

For those who want to support the event but cannot make the trip, sponsorships for the concert are available. “For a donation of $100, we’ll send you a commemorative DVD of the concert and list your name in the event’s program,” Vitadamo said, knowing that many who supported Terri’s right to life will want to support this landmark event, even if they can’t be there in person.

There is no doubt that the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Concert will provide a night to remember. And it is fitting. Terri’s life and death have certainly cemented their place in the hearts and minds of all who anguished with her family during her courageous final two weeks of life.

Please join the Schindler family—either in person or via a donation—in making this commemoration of Terri’s life a huge success.

For more information on the Life and Hope Concert, to purchase tickets, or to help sponsor the event, please visit www.lifeandhopeconcert.org.