"Big Four" Highlights


Beach Boys Headline Schiavo Concert

Popular rock group to play Terri’s cause

By James Breig

The Beach Boys will be sending out “good vibrations” for a special cause when they perform a one-night-only concert to benefit the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

The nearly endless list of hits by the Beach Boys includes “Surfin’ USA,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “Good Vibrations.”

AP Photo: Paul Emmans/Picture Group

The concert, to be held June 12 at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton, will also feature The Lettermen, famous for such hits as “Goin’ Out of My Head” and “Theme from ‘A Summer Place.’”

Terri Schiavo, who died in 2005, was the center of a long legal and moral controversy that arose after she suffered a brain injury in 1990. The dispute between her husband and her parents over who had the right to make medical decisions for her ended when a Florida judge ordered her feeding tube removed. She died 13 days later at age 41.

Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother, is executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. In an interview with Fathers for Good, he said that the concert’s purpose is to “raise awareness” of the issue of euthanasia that revolved around his sister’s plight, which afflicts “tens of thousands of others who are in similar circumstances.”

“But, first and foremost,” he emphasized, “the concert will be a wonderful night of music. The Beach Boys are as ‘Americana’ as you can get. They are wholesome performers you can take your family to hear. It will be a lot of fun.”

Schindler left his teaching career to become what he calls “a full-time pro-life and disability rights advocate.”

“I became involved with this issue,” he said, “because of how much apathy, misinformation and misunderstanding there is [about treatment of disabled patients]. That motivates me to educate people. My family had a voice that was listened to, and that has enabled me to speak for those cannot speak for themselves.”

Reflecting on the 15 years between his sister’s collapse and her court-ordered death, Schindler said, “I will never forget what happened to her – being killed in such a barbaric way.”

He believes that his father died as a result of the stress he underwent as he watched the end of Terri’s life become a political and judicial football.

“My father told me once that he would never forgive himself because he couldn’t protect his child” from what happened to her, Schindler said. “But he did everything humanly possible. He told me one time, when we were sitting in the cafeteria of the hospital, ‘You will never know unconditional love until you have a child.’”

Bobby Schindler’s last memory of his sister prior to her collapse was a mundane conversation. “I was with her a few hours before,” he recalled. “We lived in the same apartment complex. I was going out with friends and asked her to iron my pants. I also asked if she wanted to go with us, but she said no.”

That night, his life changed drastically as he found himself in the middle of a media maelstrom that included jokes about his sister by comedians, commentary by those who wanted Terri to die and news coverage that distorted what was happening.

“Our focus during her case was on protecting and saving Terri,” Schindler said. “Since her death, the prejudice and mocking have gotten worse, and are being done on a large scale. ‘The Family Guy’ [animated TV series] did a show about Terri that  was horrible and influenced thousands of people. There is a growing prejudice against people like Terri.”

The June concert is one way the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network works to counter that prejudice and support its activities, which include developing a model support network, making preparations to eventually expand operations into a nationwide support network, establishing the group as “the authoritative, indispensable resource for patients and families facing life-threatening situations,” and building a memorial to Terri.

(For more information about the concert, go to Terri's Fight or Life and Hope Concert)

James Breig is a veteran Catholic journalist.