Jenny, Matthew, Kaleb, Bianca, Gavin and Tyson Schneader pose with their two new Brazilian “brothers” Leo and Gabriel.

A Lexington family opened their home to two Wentworth students over the holidays.   Leo Padua and Gabriel Togni both come from Brazil, and weren’t able to return home for the month-long winter break.  Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade speak with Public Relations Director Kevin Farley:

Kevin Farley

Leo Padua and Gabriel Togni both come from Brazil, and weren’t able to return home for the month-long winter break.  Farley said Rob and Jenny Schneader’s family agreed to take them in.  The Schneader family did their best to give the two cadets the full American holiday experience, including making them go to bed early on Christmas Eve.  There is talk of expanding the program in the future.

Press Release from Wentworth Military Academy

What if you couldn’t go home for the holidays? What if your children couldn’t come home for the holidays? For two Brazilian students attending Wentworth Military Academy and College, this was the reality during the month-long break over the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Thanks to a local Lexington family, that difficult situation was turned into a life-changing experience for Leo Padua and Gabriel Togni, of Brazil.

Over 4,000 miles away from home for the holidays and nowhere to go for the Brazilian, the Schneader family opened their home to the cadets. In doing so, the family didn’t realize the bond that was about to be created.

Robert and Jennifer Schneader and their five children, Mathew, Kaleb, Bianca, Gavin and Tyeson, not only opened their home to Brazilians, but they opened their hearts and minds to them as well.

“I just thought to myself, ‘What would I do as a parent, if my children couldn’t come home?” said Jennifer Schneader. “As a mother of five children, it made the decision to host them a very easy one.”

The Schneader family took the opportunity of hosting students to educate them on the culture and traditions of the great American dream. The traditions that many Americans take for granted are merely dreams or movie scenes for those in other countries.

“When the Christmas break started, I was hopeless,” said Leo Padua, a college freshman and soccer star at Wentworth Military Academy and College. “It was very difficult for me and Gabriel because we are very connected with our families and this is our first time away from home. But we couldn’t afford to go back home for the holidays.”

The commitment started as a simple statement. While the Schneader’s attended an athletic event at Wentworth, an employee made the comment, “Jenny will do it!” Once the comment was made, Mrs. Schneader began asking questions and the decision was made very quickly by the family to host the two young men.

The decision was a fairly easy one for the Schneader Family. Robert Schneader attended Wentworth from 1984 – 1987.

“Being an Old Boy at Wentworth, I felt it was my duty to take these boys in,” said Robert Schneader. “I feel that Wentworth molded me into the man that I am today and this is the least I could do for my (school) family.”

The result of hosting the cadets for the Schneader family is that they built a very strong relationship with the two young men.

“I feel as if they are my own children,” said Jenny. “And my kids feel as if they have gained two brothers. We love them like our own.”

Christmas was a highlight for the two Wentworth Military Academy and College cadets. The cadets weren’t quite sure what to expect and they certainly were not expecting to receive Christmas gifts.

“It was really amazing,” said Cadet Leonardo Padua. “We awoke on the day before Christmas and exchanged gifts, spent time with family and ate really good food. We then had to go to bed early because of Santa Claus; it is a serious thing here!”

Leo went on to say, “So we woke up early and found more gifts. In all my life I have never had so many gifts at once. I was speechless and so thankful. Later in the day we were able to speak with our family online and see their faces. It was truly an amazing day and an amazing family.”

Thankful is the word that comes to everyone’s mind that was involved in this cadet hosting opportunity, just as it should be at this time of year.

“We are very thankful for the Schneader Family and the kindness they have shown our cadets,” said Colonel Michael Lierman. “Their willingness to take the two cadets in for the holidays was very thoughtful. This allowed these cadets to have a very enjoyable holiday season. Wentworth Military Academy and College is very thankful for the support it receives from the Lexington Community.”

Jenny Schneader also wanted to share a message with her fellow members of the Lexington Community.

“Lexington Community, if you ever have the opportunity to host a Wentworth cadet, take it,” Jenny said. “These young people are amazing. Our lives have been enriched by having these two amazing young men stay here. These cadets have set extremely high goals for themselves and I hope that our family can help them achieve those goals.”

As for the Brazilian cadets, the impact that their stay with the Schneader Family made on their lives has been simply amazing.

“I don’t think that my English vocabulary is good enough to explain,” said Cadet Padua, who does speak very good English. “I am very grateful to God because this is definitely the Christmas miracle. “The Schneader Family is truly amazing. I wish that I could show them exactly how important they are to both me and Gabriel. This is one of the best memories in my life.”

For all involved in the 2012 Schneader Family Christmas, it was truly good to be home for the holidays.

Wentworth Military Academy and College is a private co-educational military high school and two-year college. For 9th-12th graders, Wentworth provides an exemplary college-prep education, which builds self-discipline and self-confidence. In college, small class sizes and personal interaction with faculty allows our traditional and military students to achieve success in academics and in life. Wentworth is one of only five schools in the country to offer a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army after just two years of college.

Wentworth is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Anyone wishing to learn more about Wentworth Military College and Academy may contact the Public Relations Office at (660) 259-2221 or email Major Kevin Farley at [email protected]