David Schreiber never passed up an opportunity to move his little feet to a beat.
Whether it was dancing and clapping to favorites Uptown Funk and Roar, stomping as Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud picks up just before the chorus or spinning in circles on the grass at a park concert, the 2-year-old Richland boy loved to get moving.
“It was really cute to hear the other people just laugh as they watched him, and to watch them watch him,” David’s mother, Jennifer Schreiber, recalls. “You could tell he was bringing light and joy into other people’s lives just by being his goofy little self.”
The toddler died last summer. This Friday would have been his third birthday.
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His family is planning to celebrate by revealing three interactive panels and two activity tables in the children’s area of the Richland Public Library.
The public is invited to the David Schreiber Memorial Dedication at 11:30 a.m. at 955 Northgate Drive. It will be preceded by the library’s regular toddler story times at 10 and 11 a.m.
I’m looking forward as much as I can to seeing a lot of children playing with the panels and the tables. I know that it’s going to just bring some extra light into my life and my heart.
Jennifer Schreiber, mom
“I’m looking forward as much as I can to seeing a lot of children playing with the panels and the tables. I know that it’s going to just bring some extra light into my life and my heart,” said Jennifer Schreiber, choking up as she talked about her “goofball.” She and husband Dan also have a 14-month-old son, William.
“I’d like to think that David is kind of watching down and smiling and dancing as he watches the other children playing with this wonderful space that’s there in his name.”
Schreiber knows it will be an emotional day. But she’s hoping a lot of children, young and old, attend the event and is looking forward to hearing the oohs and aahs over the fun displays.
“I never in a million years had pictured us celebrating his birthday this way, but we can’t change what happened,” Schreiber said. “We can only change what we do moving forward, the decisions that we make and what we do to remember him, so that’s what I’m focused on here.
“I’m trying to do everything that I can to make a positive difference in the world when he’s no longer here to make that difference himself.”
David was rushed to the hospital July 18 after his nanny, Jocelyn M. Bellon, reported that the 2-year-old was choking. He died the following day at a Spokane hospital.
For more than a month, the family believed some little bump or fall “had worsened to the point of causing this catastrophic experience.”
But as investigators received reports from the doctors and forensic pathologist detailing the severity of the head injuries, Schreiber said things no longer lined up with what the nanny said happened.
Bellon, 29, was charged last week with first-degree manslaughter with aggravating factors.
I never in a million years had pictured us celebrating his birthday this way, but we can’t change what happened. We can only change what we do moving forward, the decisions that we make and what we do to remember him, so that’s what I’m focused on here.
Jennifer Schreiber, mom
On Monday, Schreiber didn’t want to spend much time talking about the case or the woman who helped her box up his clothes and toys.
Schreiber likes to refer to David as “our perfect little 2-year-old” — he was full of so much energy and love all the time, but he also had his share of temper tantrums. She said it’s funny watching old videos, being reminded about both sides of the toddler’s personality.
For the last three months of his life, David was super excited about being a big brother. He would bring blankets, bottles and toys to William, and even gave “Mama” the nursing pillow when he thought the baby was hungry.
“He was just very intuitive with being a really helpful big brother and, of course, I miss that a lot,” she said. “I miss seeing him take on that role.”
Schreiber is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Associated Brokers. Dan Schreiber is a scientist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.
The couple made a point of setting aside work and being together at David’s bedtime so they could read to him. David liked to keep picking books off the shelf, telling his parents “Mo’ read, mo’ read” because it meant extra time with them.
Jennifer Schreiber said they only went to the Richland library a few times before David’s death, but she immediately thought it a perfect location for a memorial donation to help transform the kids space with both educational and fun activities.
When the family visited her hometown of Deerfield, Ill., for Thanksgiving 2015, Schreiber said her son and nephew enjoyed the different activity centers at that library. So she contacted the children’s librarian there and got information about the manufacturer.
She has been working with Burgeon Group to get three panels that are each 5-feet wide and will be anchored to a wall. The panel activities include spinners and magnets, with no detachable pieces, perfect for preschool and primary graders.
We’re excited to see what it looks like Friday like everyone else. It’s touching that the family could suffer a personal tragedy and bring something so beautiful out of it for the community.
Kelly Reed, Richland children’s librarian
There also will be two tables, one for Lego Duplo toys and the other for trains, in addition to frosted glass clouds that will hang from the ceiling with the words: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play.
A plaque with David’s picture will be installed on a nearby wall to honor “his spirit and his love for playing and reading and just being interactive as possible,” Schreiber said.
Kelly Reed, the Richland children’s librarian, said they feel fortunate the Schreibers chose the library for their memorial because so many children in the community will benefit. It will make the current play area more attractive and be like an indoor park, which is great when it’s hot or rainy outside, she said.
“We’re excited to see what it looks like Friday like everyone else,” Reed said. “It’s touching that the family could suffer a personal tragedy and bring something so beautiful out of it for the community.”
The whole project is costing more than $20,000.
Schreiber said there is a fundraiser on YouCaring, that so far has raised $5,980 towad a $10,000 goal. She also has been receiving birthday presents of trains and tracks and Duplos to go on the activity tables.
And on Tuesday, Schreiber said her employer will be giving her a donation as part of this month’s charity giveback.
In the future, the family is considering adding a baby swing section, park benches or picnic tables in some area parks for David’s birthday.
For those who can’t make the dedication, they can stop and enjoy the interactive panels after Friday morning. The Richland Public Library is open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.