continued “We’re doing it because he’s such a special little boy that touched the lives of many people,” she said.
Schneider was actually born as a foster child when Florida had declared his mother incapable of being able to take care of him. Joanne started acting as a foster parent to him in 1985. She had already been the caretaker of 32 foster children before taking in Schneider when he was 7 months old. Both Joanne and her husband Eckart never planned on adopting a child since they already had four children, two of Eckart’s and two of their own, but when they first met Schneider, they knew there was something special about him.
“As he survived his heart surgeries, we didn’t want anyone else to raise him. We wanted to keep him,” Joanne said. “He was amazing. He was the happiest and smiliest kid ever. You would never know anything is wrong with him.”
Everyone he met fell in love with him, Joanne said. He made such an impact on the nurses and staff at Wolfson’s Children Hospital that even though there was a memorial service held in Jacksonville specifically for them, many of the nurses traveled 3 hours to the memorial service in Melbourne to pay their respects.
Creating a memorial in Colonie will be cathartic for both Victoria and her daughter Emily. Emily had spent several summers with Joanne in Florida where she babysat Schneider. She even took care of Schneider for eight weeks when Joanne had to have foot surgery.
“He had touched hundreds of lives,” she said. “Whether it was the therapist or his teacher in pre-school or just people at any of the social events he was at… His story inspired people in my office and they all kept track of him.”
Emily, a senior in high school, has dreams of being a pediatrician, Victoria said. She was even in the ICU when he passed away and began cleaning him up and dressing him in his pajamas after he expired.