By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s been eight years since Terri Schiavo died after the feeding tube keeping her alive was removed following a years-long court battle that made international headlines. Schiavo had a severe cognitive brain disorder. Her family hopes to raise awareness for such disorders today — Terri’s Day — with a Mass and gala in Center City.
Bobby Schindler is Terri Schiavo’s brother and had front row seat to the family dispute over whether to remove the feeding tube that kept Terri alive. They lost the battle on March 31, 2005.
“To go into a room and watch somebody die by dehydration and starvation, I can never really explain that to you,” says Schindler.
He says the family started the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network in 2005 and moved the operation from Florida to Narberth two years ago.
“We had a lot of bad memories in Florida with the court battle,” says Schindler, who serves as the organization’s executive director. “Only good memories in Philadelphia.”
The focus of the family-run non-profit is to raise awareness about cognitive brain disorders and provide support for families who are battle for life for loved ones.
“Terri’s case wasn’t isolated- it is happening every single day,” says Schindler. “Food and water is being taken from these individuals with these types of cognitive disabilities in order that they die. That’s the awareness we want to raise.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput will lead a mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at 5pm to honor Schiavo. Later in the evening, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will headline a fundraiser/gala at the Marriot downtown.
Schindler says the money raised will help keep their non-profit and begin the process of raising money for the family’s ultimate dream– a cognitive brain disorder rehab center in Philadelphia.
“We want to target the people that are the far end of the brain injury continuum– The ones like Terri, who are written off and given up on,” he says. “People we have spoken to, people in the field, they say they still can be helped.”
As for how he thinks Terri would react to this crusade.
“She would be doing the same thing if she was in our position, there is no doubt in my mind,” says Schindler.
For more info on the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, go to LifeAndHope.com.