By Laurie Sterbens
For Hometown News
"Losing your child is one of the worst things that can happen to a mother," said Lisa Schmidt of Port Orange.
For Ms. Schmidt, the worst thing happened on Aug. 27, 2012, when her daughter, driving another person's pickup truck in stormy weather, struck a guardrail on Interstate 95. Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Schneider was ejected from the vehicle and died instantly.
"It has been a nightmare," Ms. Schmidt said. She credits her husband, Michael Schmidt, as well as her family and friends with being "such a great support system" in the months since the accident.
Ms. Schmidt recently formed a foundation to raise funds for two local charities in memory of her daughter. The Rebecca Schneider Foundation will raise funds for the Residential Adolescent Program at the Stewart Marchman Center and provide financial assistance to children in need who want to participate in the City of Port Orange basketball league.
The foundation began sponsoring a basketball team on May 24, which would have been Ms. Schneider's 20th birthday, Ms. Schmidt said, because her daughter played basketball in the program from first to eighth grade.
The other beneficiary of the foundation was not chosen at random. Rebecca Schneider struggled with drug addiction and was a client of the RAP program at ages 14 and 17. Ms. Schmidt said her daughter had hoped to volunteer to talk to the adolescents in the program about her addiction.
"She was going to go out and talk to the kids on and off throughout her addiction," Ms. Schmidt said. "So I thought, when she died, I would start this foundation, because I thought that would be something she would want me to do."
Ms. Schmidt, who is studying to be a Human Services Addiction Specialist at Daytona State College while working as a carrier for Hometown News, volunteers with the RAP program as a speaker and mentor. She said she often packs up snacks, sodas, nail polish and curlers, and visits the center on Family Education Night, because few of the girls in the program have visitors.
"I just want to be able to help these kids. I just feel really bad for them," she said.
The Rebecca Schneider Foundation is hosting fund-raising dinners every other Monday at Fil's Italian Restaurant, 4011 S. Nova Road, Port Orange. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., the restaurant will offer a selected entree, salad and bread sticks for $7.99 and will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to patrons who mention the Rebecca Schneider Foundation. The next dinner is scheduled for July 8.
Ms. Schmidt is seeking sponsors and looking for additional fundraising opportunities for the foundation.
"I just think my daughter would have wanted this, and that's the way I've got to look at it," she said. "I just have to take a bad situation and try to turn it around."
For more information about the Rebecca Schneider Foundation, call Ms. Schmidt at 386-898-1979.