Chad Russell Foster, 45

Dear family and friends, at the age of 45 Chad Russell Foster went to walk on streets of gold with his Savior and numerous family and friends that preceded him in death. He passed away on March 22, 2022 at Lakeland Regional Health; after battling recurrent bouts of respiratory illness and physical decline over the past 3 years.

Chad was born with Spina Bifida which left him paralyzed from the waist down confining him to a wheelchair. When he was born doctors prognosed that he would not live more than a few days and if he did survive, he would be profoundly retarded, never being able to read, write, or care for himself. Those of us who knew Chad know that those doctors could not have been more WRONG! After several back surgeries to repair and cover his spinal cord and having a shunt placed in his head, he defied all odds. He grew into an extremely precocious child, that I lovingly called “Jabber Jaws” because he always had something to say. He never knew a stranger and would talk to anyone and everyone that would lend him an ear. With his gift for gab, he made friends easily and was known and loved by many. Chad graduated from Kathleen High School, Go Red Devil’s, in 1995. He also attended Polk State College for 1½ years, nearly completing his Day Care License Certification. In December of 2001 he moved into his own apartment and lived independently until December 2019, despite his lack of housekeeping skills. When I went to his house he would meet me outside, not allowing me to go inside, so I wouldn’t lecture him about living like a slob. He also participated in the Polk County Special Olympics for several years, earning metals in wheelchair racing and bowling.

Chad’s greatest passions included his family, friends, church, and Joni and Friends Camp. He was born to Lamont and Susan Gotshall on August 2, 1976 in Naples, Florida and was later adopted by Gerald and Patricia Foster, after residing at Foster Group Home since the age of 2. Left with decades of fond memories are his biological parents, 3 biological brothers Richard Gotshall, Shane Benson and Steven Benson, 6 adoptive siblings John Rowland, Jim Rowland, Bobby Rowland, Janice Jones, Annette Madden, and Stephen Foster, and 5 foster brothers and sisters. Chad was a member of Webster Baptist Church where he worshiped and served for the majority of his life. Throughout the years he worked in the nursery, taught Sunday School, helped in children’s church, sang in the choir, assisted in Vacation Bible School and church parking, and took part in numerous other ministries and outreach activities sponsored by the church. Chad’s initial experience with Joni Camp was as a camper but over the years he transitioned into leadership roles, helping in any way that he could. He was the assistant for the young adults, leading the group in song, prayer, and scripture reading. He was responsible for delivering “Happy Grams” which provided daily encouragement to the camp workers. This activity provided him the opportunity to visit and socialize with most of the campers and workers, which of course was a win win for him. He also assisted campers with participating in various camp activities and frequently sang in the talent show, with the “Boy Band,” and did karaoke tunes at the Coffee Shop. Joni camp provided Chad with lifelong experiences and friendships that enriched his life. He lived for and loved Joni camp sooo much that after camp each year he would set up a countdown calendar on his computer for the following year.

Chad also loved kids and animals, particularly dogs and white tigers. In 1998 he volunteered as an aide at Doris Sanders Learning Center and in 1999 he started working as a substitute paraprofessional with the Polk County school system, again at Doris Sanders. He also worked for YMCA’s after school Kid Care at Lincoln Academy and with the SACCA Kid Care after school program in Lakeland. Chad never knew an animal that he did not like. He had various types of pets over the years, mostly dogs, and he chose to decorate his home and room with white tiger décor. He also volunteered as a Gate Keeper at the Auburndale Flea Market Zoo and was responsible for collecting admission fees and taking care of the animals.

Chad’s Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at Webster Baptist Church, 1135 Chestnut Rd. Lakeland, FL 33805, on Friday April 1, 2022 at 11 a.m. He will be laid to rest at Oak Hill Burial Park following the ceremony, but he would rather you enjoy some refreshments and spend time visiting with each other while he journeys to his final resting place. We request that you don’t waste your hard-earned money on flowers, but welcomes you to share a memory of Chad or send a condolence to his family by visiting heathfuneralchapel.com. Arrangements made by Heath Funeral Chapel in Lakeland. The family would like to sincerely thank those individuals who were able to donate to Chad’s Go Fund Me Account, which was used to cover his end-of-life expenses.

Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.