Theresa Marie Schindler was born to Robert and Mary Schindler on December 3, 1963. She was the first of three children the Schindlers would have.

Terri was a shy, but comical, child who had an affinity for music, animals and the arts. She kept a small circle of friends and was dear to schoolmates, neighboring families and her own extended family.

Following high school, Terri came into her own. She developed a knack for sketching and doodling. She enjoyed outings with her friends. She was an adoptive mother to the family’s dog, Bucky. Terri attended Catholic School while growing up and remained close to her faith throughout her life.

In 1983, Terri met Michael Schiavo at Bucks County Community College and the two began dating. He was the first romantic interest Terri had.

The couple was engaged within a few months and married a year later at Terri’s church in Southampton, Pa. She was 21.

In 1986, Terri and Michael relocated to Pinellas County, Florida and her parents followed three months later.

In 1990, at the age of 26, Terri suffered a mysterious cardio-respiratory arrest for which no cause has ever been determined. She was diagnosed with hypoxic encephalopathy – neurological injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Terri was placed on a ventilator, but was soon able to breathe on her own and maintain vital function. She remained in a severely compromised neurological state and was provided a PEG tube to ensure the safe delivery of nourishment and hydration.

On March 31, 2005, Terri Schindler Schiavo died of marked dehydration following more than 13 days without nutrition or hydration under the order of Circuit Court Judge, George W. Greer of the Pinellas-Pasco’s Sixth Judicial Court. Terri was 41.

“An Introduction to Terri Schiavo’s Story” is excerpted from the Joni & Friends feature “The Terri Schiavo Story.” The full hour-long feature is available to stream in two parts:

In this two-part episode, we present the story of Terri Schiavo. Her family’s long and highly emotional struggle to save their daughter’s life eventually came under the harsh glare of a worldwide media spotlight, the US Congress and the office of the President of the United States. The final outcome left us with difficult questions about critical ethical issues. Here, Joni Eareckson Tada and leaders of the Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability respond with a Biblical perspective on these life and death questions that affect us all.

Terri Schiavo’s Story