Feature Photo by Liz Dolder
In 2013, Sa’fyre Terry was a normal 5-year-old girl living with her family in Schnectady, New York. Then disaster struck:. Her family home caught fire, and Sa’fyre lost her three siblings and father. She survived because her father shielded her with his body during the blaze. Despite medical treatment and surgery, she lost her right arm and left foot in the months following the fire. 75% of her body was burned. She spent the coming years living in foster homes and is now living with her aunt, Liz Dolder, near Schnectady.
Dolder says she “owes” Sa’fyre, giving the child credit for helping her get over the death of her 18-year-old daughter in 2009.
Dolder, who currently has legal custody of Sa’fyre, has nothing but praise for the now 8 year old girl:
She’s a living message to people that there’s hope, and no matter what, you can get through anything. That’s why we share Sa’fyre with everyone.
She helped me move forward. I will never be able to repay her.
She’s a spunky, hilarious go-getter. She loves to dress up. She loves to feel pretty. She wants to be a pop star and she’s the most popular girl at her school.
When Dolder brought home a $4 Christmas tree stand from a Goodwill, Sa’fyre told her that she “couldn’t wait” to fill it with Christmas cards. Dolder then posted the 8 year old’s wish on Facebook, requesting that cards to be sent to a local post office box.
“When the first card came in, it was like she won the lottery,” Dolder said. But she didn’t want to get Sa’fyre’s hopes up too much, and told her they would maybe get “a few” more cards. Then dozens more came, and then more.
Media outlets began publishing Sa’fyre’s story.
“This thing has taken a life of it’s own,” Dolder said.
As of December 15, Sa’fyre had received approximately 300,000 cards and letter and 3,000 packages. According to the local postmaster, it took two 2-ton mail trucks and a rented cargo truck to deliver the mail to the Sa’fyre and her family.
Volunteers are now assisting the family in opening the tons of the mail received from around the world. The family’s ultimate plans is to lie the cards out on their lawn and take a photo with an aerial drone as a “thank you” to everyone who sent one.
“To hear a number is one thing, but you really need to see how many cards there are to understand,” Dolder said.
A 5-year-old boy in Hong Kong sent Sa’fyre his favorite teddy bear with a note that said “Let’s be friends.” The family returned the teddy bear to the boy along with a “friend” so the bear didn’t ‘t get “lonely” on the long trip.
The family was also presented with a trip to Disney World by the charity Baking Memories 4 Kids, and will travel there in February.
If you’d like to send Sa’fyre cards, letters, etc., the address is:
P.O. Box 6126
Schenectady, NY 12306