Records from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates charities in the state, show that the foundation did not file required forms at first, even after being told the registration was delinquent. Schiavo's brother, the group's treasurer, filed the form last month after the state sent a letter saying the foundation would have to cease and desist fundraising in the state and pay a $1,000 fine.
Schiavo's father, Robert S. Schindler Sr., is president, and her mother, Mary L. Schindler, is secretary. The group's purposes are listed as preventing Schiavo's death, and increasing awareness and changing laws to benefit people in similar situations. The third stated purpose is to "pay for rehabilitative medical expenses for Terri Schiavo when the time comes."
The organization's Web site, Terrisfight.org, invites supporters to donate online and to contribute laser-printer paper and toner, as well as "Music CDs for Terri (she loves piano music)." The site also urges visitors to wear a ribbon for Terri ("green to symbolize life") and to join Terri's Lights Movement, described as stretching from North America to Australia, by "placing a light in their window as a show of their dedication to her liberty."
The family has endorsed donations to one other group, the Life Legal Defense Foundation of Napa, Calif., which -- among other missions -- defends "rescuers" arrested outside abortion clinics.
One early volunteer is now paid by the parents' foundation. Gary McCullough, 46, is the bearded Floridian who can be spotted on cable news stations updating reporters about the timing of family statements and introducing Schiavo's mother at the camera stand before her tearful pleas.
McCullough owns a service called the Christian News Wire and said he learned about Schiavo through Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, and another of his clients, former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
McCullough said he donated his services at first but recently received a check -- he declined to state the amount -- from the foundation to help cover groceries, travel, hotels and rental cars. McCullough said he has been working round-the-clock for the past week. He first helped the family in 2003, the last time Schiavo's feeding tube was removed by court order.
"They really hadn't done anything to beat the drums at that point," he said. "We started a 24-hour vigil outside the hospice, which was something visual. The signs, and having people outside praying, made the press more interested. And we advised the family to make regular but concise statements that would drive the story."