A sole-surviving 8-year-old girl in New York has a simple Christmas wish this year after losing her family to a fire started by an arsonist: She would like to fill up a tree-shaped card display her aunt purchased at a thrift store with Christmas cards from every state and around the world. Known by her first name, Sa'fyre, she suffered burns over 75 percent of her body when someone set fire to the upstairs stairwell leading to her family's apartment in May 2013.
Liz Dolder, her aunt and now guardian, indicates the kindness of strangers and the power of social media are beginning to bring their family Christmas cheer. Some of the first cards came from Florida, New Hampshire and California. A few were emailed from Italy, Sweden, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Christmas cards can be mailed to: Sa'fyre Terry, P.O. Box 6126, Schenectady, NY 12306.
Sa'fyre's father, David Terry, 32, and her siblings, Layah, 3, Michael, 2, and Donovan, 11 months, all were killed in the same fire. Because Terry had cradled Sa'fyre in his arms, she was protected from breathing in hot air. However, she lost her left foot and right hand.
She was 5 years old at the time of the fire. Her injuries required a nine-month stay in hospitals, where she underwent more than 50 surgeries to graft skin over her burns.
"Sa'fyre lost everything—her father, her mother, her sister, her brothers, her home, her favorite toy, her favorite outfit—everything that was familiar to her," Dolder told Today this week. "She even lost the one thing we all take for granted—her reflection. But she wakes every morning with a smile on her face. She is the true definition of hope, faith and love."
Dolder, who lives in Rotterdam, New York, with her husband, Michael and their five children, said Sa'fyre is a fighter who has inspired a community of supporters to keep going regardless of their obstacles.
"I really think I am dehydrated from crying so much. This is absolutely amazing, it takes my breath away," Dolder posted on Facebook Thursday.
"We, my family and I, have been through so much darkness of this world. Then to see the most powerful BEAUTY of the world. The world coming together to make Safyre's wish come true is unfathomable. All along we knew God saved her for a reason, never in our wild dreams, did we think she would move the hearts of many worldwide. Sa'fyre is a living testimony, 'no matter what, you can get through anything' as long as you BELIEVE in HOPE, FAITH, LOVE. Thank you doesn't quite say enough for the gratitude we have for all you caring and generosity. THANK YOU."
"Sa'fyre is a typical 8-year-old, she's just wrapped in a different package," said Dolder. "She is the bravest, most courageous little girl you will ever meet. She is funny and witty, sweet and caring, and super strong. She is truly amazing. Once you meet her, she is unforgettable."
This arson case remains unsolved, though a federal jury convicted one man last month for lying to a grand jury investigating the fire, according to The Daily Gazette.