WESLEY CHAPEL — They had only known each other for a year, and started dating only four months ago, but there was something special about the way Logan and Caitelyn were together.
Their friends picked up on it — and their parents, too. Long before they met, the two 17-year-olds possessed that spark of charisma that promised big things to come. But whenever they were together, their eyes seemed to shine a little brighter and their voices seemed a little stronger.
It was never more evident than on the Sunday before Memorial Day, when the two teens got the chance to lead the morning services at Life Church Wesley Chapel’s kids and youth ministries.
Those in attendance in the kids ministry noticed that Caitelyn Leonidas, a popular graduating senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School, had a newfound confidence in her voice as she sang lead during the church’s praise and worship songs, church members said.
And then Logan Schaer, the son of a beloved former pastor at the church, delivered his very first sermon — a message of hope that “even in middle school, you still have a voice that can change the culture, change lives, make a difference.” Roughly 100 middle school students were there that day — a tough crowd by any standards.
“We were getting notes all day long from parents telling us, ‘You have no idea how amazing your kid is going to be, what an impact he had on my child today and how much he changed their lives. You should be so proud,’” his father, Kurt Schaer, told the Tampa Bay Times.
“That was Sunday, and then on Monday they were gone,” he said. “Logan and Caitelyn danced into the arms of Jesus.”
Neither the families nor investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol and Pasco County Sheriff’s Office can say for sure what caused Logan Schaer to lose control of his SUV while driving his girlfriend home Monday night.
They had just watched a movie with Logan’s family after spending the day at the beach, his father said. They said their goodbyes around 9:45 p.m., Schaer said, but the couple never made it to the Leonidas’ house. And when minutes turned to hours, the worried families called 911.
Eventually, divers found the 2003 Toyota Sequoia at the bottom of a retention pond in Caitelyn’s neighborhood, near the corner of Estancia Boulevard and San Romano Drive.
The two teens were opposites in many ways, but they shared an empathetic spirit and a heart for helping others. Hundreds of tributes on social media sites and at Life Church services say both Logan and Caitelyn possessed a rare ability to make anyone — young or old, friend or stranger — feel like they mattered.
“Words just can’t explain what I’m trying to say — how she blessed me,” Life Church member Amanda Lee said of Caitelyn. “Something just really stuck out to me when I would see her on platform. I cannot even express it. There was just something there.”
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Caitelyn Leonidas had lots of practice in making new friends, moving from California and then to Texas before settling in Wesley Chapel in 2019. Her best friends, though, were her parents and younger brother, the latter of whom would play guitar alongside his sister’s intricate piano arrangements in videos posted to their parents’ Facebook pages.
She loved music and tennis and loved taking on leadership positions at school and in the church youth group her father, Anthony Leonidas, said. Days before the crash, the journalism program at Wiregrass Ranch High presented Caitelyn Leonidas with a college scholarship for her work on the school yearbook and other ventures.
Logan Schaer was a natural fit for the outgoing young reporter. Life was rarely easy for him, his father said. Logan was diagnosed with multiple medical conditions at an early age that made him smaller than other boys his age. He had celiac disease, gluten issues, problems with lactose. After suffering a seizure, he held off getting his driver’s license until earlier this year — when doctors agreed it wouldn’t pose a risk.
When he got older, most of his medical issues seemed to miraculously disappear, his father, Kurt Schaer, said. He grew taller and stronger until he stood eye to eye with his dad. But the confidence he was forced to find as a child struggling to fit in only helped him stand out even more as a young man.
“He was so young when he learned how to be humorous and funny and so, so loving so that his tiny size wasn’t what people would notice, just his gigantic heart,” Kurt Schaer said. “Logan was my son, but his soul, and his spirit, was larger than life.”
Logan Schaer earned his high school diploma through the Pasco eSchool program — a choice he made so he could spend more time doing what he really loved, helping his parents minister to others in their community and across the globe. He loved video games, soccer and random acts of kindness, his parents said. Just before the crash, he enrolled at Life Church College, where he would study to become a youth pastor.
It was a plan two years in the making, his parents said. And Logan was adamant he would “never leave student ministry.” When his parents asked why, they couldn’t argue with his answer.
“I truly believe teenagers will change the world, and I want to be a part of that,” Logan had said. “I want to be a part of that.”
A celebration of life service for Caitelyn Leonidas will be held Saturday, June 4, at Life Church, located at 6224 Old Pasco Rd. in Wesley Chapel. Her viewing begins at 10 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. service.
Out of respect for the Leonidas family, Kurt Schaer said services for Logan won’t be announced until after Caitelyn’s memorial. Those arrangements will be posted on www.forlogan.com — a tribute website where the family is taking donations for a scholarship in Logan’s name. Created by the family with help from New Life Church and the Tampa and Temple Terrace fire departments — where two of Logan’s uncles work — Kurt Schaer said the hope is to use the fund as a way for Logan to continue helping others for years to come.