Christmas Comes Early to 8-Year-Old Disfigured by Fire

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

8-Year-Old Burn Victim Who Lost Family in Fire Wishes for Christmas Cards: ‘She Is the Definition of Hope,’ Her Aunt Says.

An eight-year-old girl who lost her family to an act of arson has only one Christmas wish this year—to receive Christmas cards to fill her card tree.

It was an early May morning in 2013 when, investigators said, an arsonist set fire to the family’s apartment stairwell in Schenectady, N.Y., not far from Albany. She survived thanks to her father, who used his body to shield her from the fire, but she suffered severe burns to over 75 percent of her body, and lost her right hand and left foot to subsequent operations. Another friend put a post on the YouCaring.com crowdfunding site with a $15,000 US goal to help Dolder and her husband, Mike — Safyre’s new family — deal with medical costs and other financial challenges. She is the true definition of hope, faith and love.” Liz, who lives with her husband and five children in Rotterdam, New York, often posts updates on Safyre’s health to a Facebook page she created called Safyre Schenectady’s Super Survivor. When we got our first Christmas card, she was so excited. … It was just incredible.” Safyre’s supporters have since launched an Imgur campaign to “make this little girl’s Christmas wish come true.” Dolder said so far she has collected close to 50 cards from the mailbox.

Subsequent Facebook posts on Safyre Schenectady’s Super Survivor, a page detailing Safyre’s journey, show her clutching bundles of letters, overjoyed. “Your outlook on life makes me smile, and your undefeatable attitude is what makes humans amazing,” one card reads. You are a beautiful girl, and you deserve all the happiness in the world. “It’s so overwhelming,” Dolder said, sobbing. “I’m crying buckets, because when you’ve seen the ugly in the world, and then you see the world come together for her, it’s just more than words can say.

There were teddy bears, stuffed kittens, handmade jewelry, personalized Christmas tree ornaments, whimsical socks, books and cards signed by whole classrooms of schoolchildren. So far, she’s received 14 cards from Florida to New Hampshire, to California. “She’s even had a few emailed from Italy, Sweden, Russia and the United Kingdom,” says Liz. “When she opens these cards, the twinkle in her eye and the sparkle in her smile are priceless.” Safyre’s mother, Jennica Duell, has also been charged for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury — first claiming she saw who started the fire and then claiming that statement was false, Jaquith said. But her spirits lifted considerably last January when a tracheal tube was removed and she was able to speak again. “That’s when she came back out,” Dolder said, wiping away tears. “She’s been through hell and back. Court documents allege that on May 24, 2013, Duell testified under oath that “a man said that he could make it so Duell and him could be together forever” and later poured gasoline in the hallway and lit the stairs on fire. “She spoke about her babies and he said they would get out and not get hurt,” according to court documents. “She saw the flames and wanted to get in there, but he wouldn’t let her.” On January 31, 2014, she testified that the previous statements were untrue and that she and others were not at the crime scene at the time of the fire, according to court documents. “The first moment I saw her, I was not prepared,” Dolder told The Post. “She did not have a face anymore.

It was all burned off — all but a small patch on her forehead.” “We opted to do it; it was very sensitive,” Dolder said. “She didn’t have a sole left, so when she stepped on something, it was like knives going into her foot. We wanted to share with the world her message of faith, hope and love.” Safyre, with long sandy hair, pink leggings and glitter-spangled sneakers, showed not a hint of self-consciousness as TV cameras pressed in to record her opening gifts and cards Wednesday afternoon.

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