1508 Hwy 59
Princeton, KS 66078
c/o Best-Schendel Family
Ashley Schendel was only a few days away from graduating from massage therapy classes. She worked two jobs and attended classes three times a week at WellSpring School of Allied Health, 947 N.H.
But early Monday, her life changed dramatically. A fire roared through her house in Richmond, killing her husband and three of her four children.
Students at WellSpring are banding together to raise money to help pay for hospital bills and funerals of the four family members.
Practicing massage therapists will give 10-minute chair massages for a minimum $15 donation from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the school.
“It feels good to be doing something. Yesterday when I found out, I felt really useless,” said Madeleine McGeorge, one of Schendel’s classmates.
The fire at Schendel’s house was reported about 1:40 a.m. Monday, and by the time firefighters arrived, the house was engulfed in flames. Ashley Schendel, 25, and 9-year-old Alexis Best escaped the fire. Schendel’s husband, Bryce, 25, as well as Zoey Schendel, 5 months, Jace Best, 6, and Ayden Best, 5, died.
McGeorge, 20, said Schendel hoped to open her own massage therapy business with her sister-in-law about a block from her home. Schendel worked two jobs in nursing homes and traveled almost 50 miles from Richmond to class in Lawrence.
McGeorge said the family had no life insurance, so Schendel must pay for four funerals. She suffered some burns, but her 9-year-old has more severe burns. McGeorge said Schendel probably wouldn’t be able to practice for a while because of her injuries.
Sarah Prentice, 30, said classmates had met some of Schendel’s children and always saw her working extra hard to finish her classes.
“She’s just kind of part of our family,” Prentice said. “This is a huge tragedy, so we want to help out as much as we can.”